Photo and video sharing platform Instagram announced Thursday that it is testing new ways to verify the birthdates of its users, particularly thanks to an artificial intelligence tool that estimates age via facial recognition.
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The social network, which is part of the Meta group (also the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger), has collaborated with Yoti, a British start-up that is developing a facial feature recognition algorithm.
Specifically, U.S.-based underage Instagram users wishing to change their age to 18 or older will have to justify their approach by filming themselves and streaming the video to Meta.
The snippet will then be analyzed by Yoti’s algorithm to determine the age before being deleted.
Yoti says his instrument’s margin of error is around 1.5 years for boys between the ages of 13 and 19. The data provided by the company shows more inaccuracies for female faces and people with dark complexions.
The young company guarantees that its technology in no case allows the identification of a person or the retrieval of personal information.
Another option Instagram explored is to ask three of its contacts (who must all be of age) to certify the age indicated in the question.
Young users already had and still have the possibility to provide an identity document (destroyed within 30 days) to prove their age.
The minimum age to create an Instagram account is 13, but many minors bypass this legal limit by lying about their date of birth.
Since 2021, the platform requires all its users to communicate their birthday and asks for age confirmation in order to access certain content deemed inappropriate for a very young audience.
It has also implemented various parental control tools, including the ability to limit screen time or schedule breaks.
These devices mark an evolution of the speech of Instagram, which previously believed it was not responsible for age verification.
Its boss, Adam Mosseri, told US lawmakers last year that it made more sense for parents to deal with it “rather than asking every question, and there are millions of them, to check age.”
However, for some associations for the protection of children’s rights and various politicians, the measures recently implemented are insufficient.
Instagram was rocked in 2021 by revelations from former Facebook employee Frances Haugen who leaked documents showing network executives were aware of the app’s mental health risks for minors.