Instagram tests new age verification tools for accounts aged 18 and over, including video selfies – TechCrunch

Instagram has been messing around for years looking for better ways to manage and interact with younger and older users – not just to be more compliant with the rules, but to better target age-appropriate and relevant content and advertising to them. Recently, the Meta-owned platform is testing a new set of features – video selfies, vouchers from adult friends and providing an ID – designed to verify when people say they are 18 years and older.

The test covers US users who will now potentially see these options if they try to change their age from under 18 to 18 years and over.

There are two basic use cases for this new verification system: adults who have mistakenly registered as teenagers and are trying to enter their correct age; and teens trying to circumvent the platform’s age-appropriate restrictions. Instagram has made periodic changes to these restrictions, including making accounts for younger people standard to private mode.

In particular, this does not change the control of the registration process where you have to enter your date of birth. According to company rules, you must be 13 years of age to sign up for the service.

In the United States, when you change your age from under 18 to 18 years and over, you will be asked to choose one of the above options. You can provide an ID card as a passport or a driver’s license for verification. The company stores your ID for 30 days on its servers before deleting it.

Image credit: Instagram

If you do not have a valid ID on Instagram’s acceptable ID list, you can choose the video selfie method for age verification. Instagram has partnered with London-based digital identity startup Yoti for this part of the verification. Once a user has uploaded the video selfie, Meta shares it with Yoti, who confirms their age using its specially trained AI. Once the verification process is over, both companies delete the data.

Image credit: Instagram

In his White Paper on Technology, Yoti claims that AI can only estimate your age, but can not identify you. The company said it has trained its model from images of users around the world who have given consent for their data to be used for research.

The third way to confirm your age is called Social Vouching. This method involves three of your friends aged 18 and over who must vouch for your age and they cannot vouch for anyone else at that time. The company said the coupon gets the list of six people at random without a family member on it.

The people you select for this process will receive a confirmation request and must process it within three days. The people who stand for you will have options to indicate your age group, such as under 13, 13-17, 18-20, 21 or older, or I’m not sure. All three of them must choose the same option for your age confirmation to be approved.

Image credit: Instagram

Meta said all the information you provide for age verification is private and will not be visible to anyone. The company also noted that devices and app stores should perform these checks so teens can have a safe experience across all apps and services.

“Understanding a person’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. Many people, such as teens, do not always have access to those forms. “ID that makes age verification clear and simple. As an industry, we need to explore new ways to approach the dilemma of verifying a person’s age when they do not have an ID,” the company said in a statement.

Meta added that it is constantly developing AI to detect users lying about their age. Although it does not scan images and videos, it searches for signals such as birthday posts to identify a user’s true age. AI also helps the company keep teens away from adult experiences like Facebook Dating and Mentoring.

Instagram first introduced an age check by asking for birth dates during registration in 2019. Later in 2021, it made it mandatory for everyone to disclose their date of birth.

That same year, it launched restrictions for teens such as making accounts private by default for users under 16, blocking DMs from unknown adults and stopping advertisers from displaying targeted ads based on teens’ interests and activities. Instagram rival TikTok also introduced similar restrictions for users under 18 last year.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Instagram knew its platform was affecting the mental health of young users, but ignored its impact. After facing backlash, the company took many steps such as shelving its plans to develop a dedicated children’s app and roll out stronger parental controls. Instagram’s new age verification methods are another attempt to protect teens from harmful content.

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