Instagram has revealed plans to start using facial recognition technology to verify that a user is actually an adult or if he is just a teen. This is one more effort on the part of the social media company to make up for all of the criticism that came after whistleblowers revealed Instagram knew that teens were being harmed emotionally by its platform and did nothing about it.
“Understanding someone’s age online is a complex, industry-wide challenge. We want to work with others in our industry, and with governments, to set clear standards for age verification online,” said Instagram in a blog post.
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Instagram already has a 13 year old age minimum and filters in place to block certain content from underage kids. In order to ensure from now on that no one is lying about their age when signing up, the users must now upload some sort of ID, ask three adult users to vouch for them, or take a video selfie. The video selfie will then be examined to see how old the user is.
“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,” said the company. “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.”
To that end, Instagram is partnering with Yoti, a company that it says specializes in privacy-preserving ways to verify age. Yoti states that its age estimation tech is a secure age-checking service that accurately estimates a person’s age by looking at their face. And the company promises that its age estimation technology has been designed with data privacy and security at its core.
“It does not require individuals to register in advance, nor to provide any documentary evidence of their identity. It neither retains any information about individuals nor any images of them. It simply estimates their age,” declares Yoti.
Kids will, of course, be able to get someone else to take the selfie picture. But if they do that then they will never be able to upload their real selfies to Instagram since then the company would know that they lied.