Instagram begins testing new age verification tools

As part of a trial in the US, users will be asked to upload a video selfie to prove their age or nominate friends to vouch for them.

Martyn Landi
Thursday 23 June 2022 11:00
(Instagram)
(Instagram)

Instagram is introducing new ways for users to verify their age on the platform as a way of providing more age-appropriate experiences.

The Meta-owned firm said beginning in the US, it was testing tools that would allow users to ask others to vouch for their age or use technology to confirm it based on a video selfie.

As part of the test, when someone attempts to edit their date of birth on the site from under 18 to 18 or over, Instagram will ask them to verify their age by either uploading their ID, recording a video selfie or ask mutual friends to verify their age.

Instagram said it is partnering with British technology firm Yoti on the video selfie verification test, with the firm’s tech able to estimate someone’s age based on facial features and share this with Meta.

Both Meta and Yoti said this data would then be deleted and the technology can not recognise someone’s identity.

The vouching feature will see users asked to nominate three mutual followers to confirm how old the user in question is, with those nominated required to be aged 18 or older, not currently vouching for anyone else and having met “other safeguards we have in place”, Instagram said.

Rather than a video selfie, users can nominate friends to vouch for them and their age. (Instagram)

Online safety campaigners have called for age verification tools to be introduced on social media and other platforms in order to better protect younger users from inappropriate content.

Instagram said this test would help trial potential solutions to the issue.

“Understanding someone’s age online is a complex, industry-wide challenge,” the company said.

“We want to work with others in our industry, and with governments, to set clear standards for age verification online.

“Many people, such as teens, don’t always have access to the forms of ID that make age verification clear and simple. As an industry, we have to explore novel ways to approach the dilemma of verifying someone’s age when they don’t have an ID.

“We still believe an effective way of addressing this problem is for devices or app stores to provide apps with people’s ages, allowing teens to be placed in age-appropriate experiences across all the apps they use.

“In the absence of industry standards or regulation on how to effectively verify age online, we’ve invested in a combination of technologies that are more equitable, provide more options to verify age and that protect the privacy of people using our technologies.”

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