Instagram has started exploring new age verification options in the US. This includes age determination via a camera scan of the user’s face, according to an Instagram blog post on Thursday. An artificial intelligence (AI) then evaluates whether it is potentially an adult, a teenager or a child. Instagram uses technology from the British age verification specialist Yoti.
A user’s age is then verified whenever an attempt is made to change the age rating from “under 18” to 18 or older, the Instagram blog says. There are three ways to verify age. Users can either upload an ID document, create a “selfie video” according to certain specifications, which is then evaluated by Yotis AI, or have friends confirm their age.
Instagram wants to ensure that in certain countries no children under the age of 13 can register with the service. Depending on their age – children up to 13 years old, teenagers 13 to 17 years old and adults over 18 – users should be able to have “age-appropriate experiences” on Instagram. The main concerns here are restrictions such as the fact that unknown adults should not be able to contact children and the display of age-appropriate advertising.
Age verification in the USA by uploading an identification document (ID or driver’s license) is not new. According to Instagram, the document will be kept on the servers for 30 days until it is deleted.
Age verification by AI
Verification via a video selfie is new. To do this, the user must create a “selfie video” according to the instructions. According to initial information, this largely corresponds to an all-round scan of the face, such as is required when creating Apple’s Face ID or for other access systems via face recognition. The recorded image information is then forwarded to Yoti. Yoti does not receive any more information, writes Instagram. An AI then estimates the approximate age based on specific age characteristics. Instagram promises that the identity should not be recognizable. Instagram uses the result to allocate to the appropriate age group. After that, the image data will be deleted.
Yoti’s age verification system is privacy-friendly and verified by the Age Check Verification Scheme, a UK non-profit organization. Various youth and data protection organizations would also recommend Yoti’s system, including the German Commission for Youth Protection (KJM), Instagram continues to promote Yoti’s process.
Anonymous image data from people worldwide is said to have been used to train the AI. They had given their consent. In the case of children, the parents or guardians would have consented to the use of image files.
Age verification via friends
Another new option for age confirmation is Instagram’s “Social Vouching”. Instagram users can ask friends to verify their age. This must be done within three days. These people then “vote” for it and must be at least 18 years old. In addition, they can only vouch for one person. A total of three such guarantors are required.
Instagram’s tests for age verification options are currently only taking place in the USA. It is not yet clear whether and which of these will also come to Germany.
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