Instagram is testing new methods for age verification, including having the user upload a video selfie and then letting an AI judge their age.
Here’s how it will work. When an Instagram user attempts to edit their birth date on the service to be 18 or over, Instagram will require them to verify their age. There will be several ways to do this, including uploading an ID or asking three mutual friends to verify your age.
The most interesting way to do this, however, is to upload a video selfie. Instagram will then hand over the video to its partner, Yoti, a company that uses AI to verify the user’s age.
Yes, an artificial intelligence will judge whether you’re really over 18.
Instagram says that Yoti trains its AI on “anonymous images of diverse people from around the world who have transparently allowed Yoti to use their data and who can ask Yoti to delete their data at any time.” And for people under the age of 13, Yoti collected data with parents or guardians giving explicit consent.
According to a “white paper” document posted on its website, Yoti says that its AI has an accuracy rate of 2.96 years for 6-70 year olds (meaning that’s how much it will err, on average), and this accuracy rate gets better for narrower age groups. The company also says that users are not individually identifiable, and that gender and skin tone bias is “minimised.”
Instagram says that once you upload a video selfie and Yoti uses it to confirm your age, the image isn’t used for anything else, and is deleted after your age has been confirmed.
This is probably a good time to remind you that Facebook, whose parent company Meta also owns Instagram, has misused user data on several occasions in the past.
As for why Instagram is using this method at all, the company says that “understanding someone’s age online is a complex, industry-wide challenge,” and that many teens don’t always have access to an ID, so it’s forced to “explore novel ways to approach the dilemma of verifying someone’s age.”