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Some major social media platforms apply weaker checks that the age supplied by a customer is accurate, using social analysis for example (how old their friends are; whether the topics they show interest in are typical for the age they enter). On this basis, they argue that they already undertake ‘age assurance’ to prevent those too young to use their services (typically <13) or those not old enough to view certain content or advertising (typically <18). However, these methods are an imperfect science, with studies demonstrating between a quarter and a third of 9-12 year olds have social media accounts. And the broad age assurance approach cannot operate at the margins, distinguishing between someone who is 17½ and someone who is 18½.

However, this cannot provide accuracy to a particular age, and certainly not validate a date of birth. Not only does this expose the platform to allowing children under 13 to sign up, but it also means they will miscalculate when those users later turn 16, 18 or 21, exposing them to restricted content at a younger age than is legal.