Instagram testing age verification tools to tackle ‘inappropriate content’

Instagram is introducing new ways for users to verify their age on the platform as a way of providing more age-appropriate experiences.

It comes after online safety campaigners called for age verification tools to be rolled out on social media to help better protect younger users from being exposed to inappropriate content.

The Meta-owned firm said it has begun testing new tools, starting with the US, which will allow users to ask others to vouch for their age or use technology to confirm it based on a video selfie.

How will the age verification work?

As part of the test, when someone attempts to edit their date of birth on the site from under 18 to age 18 or over, Instagram will ask them to verify this.

This can be done either by uploading an ID, recording a video selfie or asking mutual friends to verify their age.

Instagram said it is partnering with British technology firm Yoti on the video selfie verification test. The firm’s tech can estimate someone’s age based on facial features and share this with Meta.

Both Meta and Yoti said this data would be deleted and that the technology can not recognise someone’s identity.

The vouching feature will see users nominating three mutual followers to confirm how old the user in question is, with those nominated required to be aged 18 or older and not currently vouching for anyone else, as well as having met “other safeguards we have in place”, Instagram said.

What has Instagram said? 

Instagram said the testing would help to trial potential solutions to the issue of verifying a person’s age online.

The company said: “Understanding someone’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, don’t always have access to the forms of ID that make age verification clear and simple. As an industry, we have to explore novel ways to approach the dilemma of verifying someone’s age when they don’t have an ID.

“We still believe an effective way of addressing this problem is for devices or app stores to provide apps with people’s ages, allowing teens to be placed in age-appropriate experiences across all the apps they use.

“In the absence of industry standards or regulation on how to effectively verify age online, we’ve invested in a combination of technologies that are more equitable, provide more options to verify age and that protect the privacy of people using our technologies.”

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