Verifying a user’s age is one of the biggest challenges that social media platforms face today. To counter that, Meta-owned Instagram is now testing a number of new methods for age verification, including having the user upload a video selfie and then letting their own piece of AI software judge their age.
At present, some users when they update their date of birth on the platform to reflect that they are over 18, are required to show upload an ID. Because Instagram has encountered several cases where teenagers have used fake IDs, they had to come up with a new way to verify their age. Instagram also had to face concerned parents and patrons over the fact that people had to upload IDs, given Meta’s coloured history with collecting a user’s data.
While the ID-based system will stay on for the time being, Instagram is developing a number of other ways to verify the age of a user. In a test run, they are asking users to get three mutual friends who can verify their age. They are calling this “social vouching,” although clearly, there is a lot of potential for abuse here.
The most interesting way that they are going about this age verification business is by using AI. Instagram is asking some users to shoot a selfie video and submit it for verification. An AI bot will then study the footage and check for a number of parameters, and then “judge” whether one is indeed over the age of 18 years.
Instagram is using the services of an online verification company called Yoti, a company that uses AI to verify the user’s age.
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.
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. However, given Instagram’s parent company Meta’s history of misusing user data, one should be cautious to take this approach.