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Instagram tests new AI tool that verifies age by face scanning

Instagram tests new AI tool that verifies age by face scanning
Photo Credit: Pixabay
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Instagram is testing new techniques including an AI tool for users to verify their age on the platform and is being rolled out in the US first. Instagram has collaborated with Yoti, a firm which specialises in online age verification simply by face scanning. 

It is part of an endeavour to ascertain that users are at least 13 years old and to “make sure teens and adults are in the right experience for their age group,” it announced

At present, Instagram seeks user’s age for verification only when teenagers attempt to spoof their date of birth to show them as 18 or older. To verify age, users can share images of various ID cards, and from today, users will have two more options of “ask(ing) others to vouch for their age, or use technology that can confirm their age based on a video selfie (AI procedure),” the social media platform said. 

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For the “social vouching” system, Instagram allows the user to ask three mutual followers to confirm the age. “The person vouching must be at least 18 years old, must not be vouching for anyone else at that time and will need to meet other safeguards we have in place,” said Instagram. 

The AI estimation part will require the user to upload a video selfie to verify the age. After the video is uploaded, Instagram’s parent company Meta will share the image (it will share only the image) with Yoti and “nothing else”. “Yoti’s technology estimates your age based on your facial features and shares that estimate with us. Meta and Yoti then delete the image. The technology cannot recognise your identity – just your age,” the company said. 

Yoti is a renowned in the domain of online age verification and ID verification. It uses several facial signals to assess a target’s age. 

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Inspite of all these assurances, the system cannot be free from controversy free. Users do not really have faith on both Facebook and Instagram on grounds of how the firms handle their data. Over that, Yoti’s age recognition has more errors for female faces, age range below 24 years and people with darker skin. 

Nevertheless, if the tool is undertaking a wider assessment about a user’s age, its accuracy improves. An analysis of Yoti’s system by Age Check certification scheme in 2020 showed that it was almost 99% appropriate at assessing whether or not users aged 18 were over or under 25 years. 

At the moment, it is not certain how these figures will hold true in Instagram’s case. 

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Instagram said that with AI’s aid it aims to “prevent teens from accessing Facebook Dating, adults from messaging teens and helps teens from receiving restricted ad content, for example. Our goal is to expand the use of this technology more widely across our technologies.”