The photo sharing platform Instagram announced this Thursday that it began testing a tool based on artificial intelligence (AI) to confirm the age of its users in the United States with facial scanning.
Lawmakers around the world demanded that the social networking service, owned by tech giant Meta, protect the young of adult content and invasions of your privacy.
According to technology companies, this issue is not easily resolved, but could be addressed with broader technological changes. Among them, the linking of birth dates to a person’s cell phone.
Meta announced the trial of new verification tools for anyone trying to change their age on the platform. It also includes recording a selfie video or ask your friends to verify their age.
“We’re testing this to make sure teens and adults will have the right experience for their age group,” Meta said.
Video selfies will be sent to British firm Yoti. The company, which will collaborate with Instagram, has developed a facial scanning tool that can calculate the age of those under 20 years of age. The technology has a margin of error of 1.5 years.
Yoti’s own data suggests however that its tool is not as effective at verifying the age of women and girls, and people with dark skin.
Both Yoti and Meta said that the selfies will be deleted after verification.
It’s not Instagram work
In 2021, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri told US lawmakers they felt it wasn’t Instagram’s job verify the age of users. “I think it would be much more effective to verify ages at the device level,” he said.
Instagram was rocked last year by revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen. The woman claimed that the firm’s executives knew that the platform could harm mental health of young people, particularly adolescent girls. Since then, they have implemented various features aimed at protecting younger users.