Social media giant Meta has lowered the minimum age required to use WhatsApp.

The change came into affect in the UK and EU on Thursday (April 11) and has already been met with calls to reverse it immediately.

WhatsApp said the change was bringing the age limit in line with the majority of countries and protections were in place.

Meta lowers minimum age required to use Whatsapp

Meta - who also owns Facebook and Instagram - is lowering the minimum age required to use messaging service WhatsApp from 16 to 13.

York Press: Campaigners have labelled Meta's latest change to WhatsApp tone deaf.Campaigners have labelled Meta's latest change to WhatsApp tone deaf. (Image: PA)

These changes come into affect across the UK from Thursday.

Meta has also revealed this week a range of new safety features designed to protect users, in particular young people, from “sextortion” and intimate image abuse.

It confirmed it will begin testing a filter in Direct Messages (DMs) on Instagram, called Nudity Protection, which will be on by default for those aged under 18 and will automatically blur images sent to users which are detected as containing nudity.

When receiving nude images, users will also see a message urging them not to feel pressure to respond, and an option to block the sender and report the chat.

Meta labelled 'tone deaf' as people call for WhatsApp change to be reversed

The change to the minimum age required to use WhatsApp has been labelled as "tone deaf" by campaign group Smartphone Free Childhood who have called for an immediate reversal.

Co-founder of the group, Daisy Greenwell, speaking to The Times said: “WhatsApp is putting shareholder profits first and children’s safety second.

“Reducing their age of use from 16 to 13 years old is completely tone deaf and ignores the increasingly loud alarm bells being rung by scientists, doctors, teachers, child safety experts, parents and mental health experts alike.”


She continued: “Among parents, WhatsApp is seen as the safest social media app, ‘because it’s just messaging, right?’.

“And in that way it works like a gateway drug for the rest of the social media apps. If you’re messaging your friends on WhatsApp, why not message them on Snapchat?

“WhatsApp is far from risk-free. It’s often the first platform where children are exposed to extreme content, bullying is rife and it’s the messaging app of choice for sexual predators due to its end-to-end encryption.”

Conservative MP Vicky Ford, a member of the education select committee, said Meta’s decision to reduce the age recommendation without consulting parents was “highly irresponsible”.