Instagram introduces age verification using face-scanning technology

Instagram is testing new options for users to verify their age on the platform, using video selfies and getting people to vouch for them.

The photo-sharing service owned by Meta said it is testing two new ways to verify a person’s age, in addition to allowing them to upload their identity proof online.

‘When we know if someone is a teen (13-17 years), we provide them with age-appropriate experiences like defaulting them into private accounts, preventing unwanted contact from adults they don’t know and limiting the options advertisers have to reach them with ads,’ Erica Finkle, director of data governance at Meta, said in a blog post.

‘If someone attempts to edit their date of birth on Instagram from under the age of 18 to 18 or over, we’ll require them to verify their age using one of three options: upload their ID, record a video selfie or ask mutual friends to verify their age. We’re testing this so we can make sure teens and adults are in the right experience for their age group,’

In 2019, Instagram began asking people to provide their age when signing up for the service. The app requires people to be at least 13 years old to sign up. In some countries, the minimum age is higher.

Instagram has partnered with Yoti, a company that specializes in online age verification to ensure users’ privacy.

Now users can choose to upload a video selfie to verify their age. Yoti’s technology estimates your age based on your facial features and shares that estimate with the tech giant. Meta and Yoti then delete the image. The technology cannot recognize your identity – just your age. 

The other option for age verification is social vouching where people can ask mutual followers to confirm how old they are. The person vouching must be at least 18 years old, must not be vouching for anyone else at that time and will need to meet other safeguards.

You can select three people to vouch for you, who will then receive a request to confirm your age and will need to respond within three days. 

The new age verification feature will start rolling out to users in the US.

Users will still be able to upload a form of ID like a driver’s license or ID card to verify their age. Meta said that the IDs will be stored securely on their servers and will be deleted within 30 days. 

The move comes after Instagram paused the launch of Instagram Kids last year, after receiving criticism and opposition for the project.

Instagram Kids was touted as requiring parental permission to join, and was supposed to provide ad-free, age-appropriate content, but US lawmakers and advocacy groups urged the company to drop its launch plans, citing safety concerns.

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