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Instagram Tests Video Selfies to Verify Age Among Teens

by Ndungu Brian

Instagram is exploring new ways for teenagers to verify their age and comply with the platform rules.

The photo-sharing service owned by Meta Platforms (META) said it is testing video selfies with facial analysis software as a new age-verification method in addition to allowing them to upload their identity proof online.

The test will begin with people in the United States where there has been a large number of users on Instagram who try to skirt its 13+ age rule by editing their date of birth to make them appear over 18.

“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.

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

Users can upload a video selfie to verify their age, after which Yoti’s technology estimates their age based on facial features. Both Meta and Yoti will delete the image once the age has been verified, Instagram said.

Yoti says its algorithm, trained on anonymous people’s facial images and their date of birth, cannot individually identify users or anything about them, except their age.

Another option is for people to select three mutual followers to confirm the user’s age, and the person vouching must be at least 18 years old and cannot be vouching for any other users at the time.

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

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

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