WhatsApp has announced a dramatic shake-up of its messaging service.

The Facebook-owned chat app will no longer allow people under the age of 16 to use the messenger.

The change will be made ahead of the introduction of new EU privacy laws in May.

Until now, WhatsApp has allowed 13 year-olds to join the messaging service – however, from May 25 and with the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it will increase for those inside the EU.

Users will need to confirm their age as part of a new terms of service in the coming weeks.

Those who do not meet the new minimum age requirement will no longer be able to use the hugely-successful messaging app.

WhatsApp said it was not asking for any new rights to collect personal information as part of the new terms.

“Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you,” the company said.

Fellow internet giants such as Facebook and Twitter have also been rolling out new terms of service ahead of the GDPR launch, in order to bring their businesses in line with the new regulations – which require clear consent from users to access their data.

The regulations also give users greater powers to access and control how their data is used, and the right to have personal data erased.

WhatsApp said the update ensured it could “meet the new high standards of transparency for how we protect the privacy of our users”.

The company said it plans to keep the over-13 age restriction in the rest of the world.

It also confirmed it will launch a feature in the coming weeks that will enable users to download a copy of the data WhatsApp has collected on them – another requirement of GDPR.