Social media companies have rolled out a ton of measures to make their platforms safer for users, especially teens and underage ones. Meta-owned Instagram has taken measures to address this issue, and now, it is introducing a new way for users in various regions to verify their ages.
Earlier this year, the photo-sharing social networking site had started to test a feature in the US that would let users verify their ages via video selfies. Now, it is expanding its program to two new markets – India and Brazil – as well as in other regions. Before the end of the year, it also plans to bring this feature to the UK and the EU.
The age of users is of paramount importance when it comes to social media platforms. Not only is the internet far from being a safe place for children, teens and underage users are also likely to view potentially harmful content on social media platforms (although companies are doing their best to prevent such instances from occurring in the first place). Last year, Instagram made it compulsory for users to provide their ages when they signed up for the platform (two years after it introduced the idea). The social media platform requires individuals to be at least 13 years old to sign up for the platform.
However, it is far from being a fool-proof solution – with the lack of supporting data or documents, it was easy for individuals to falsify their birthdays and provide fake birthdays. Now, Instagram is looking to make things right with the expansion of this program.
Initially, Instagram had rolled out two ways for users to verify their ages – video selfies and Social Vouching. The latter lets mutual followers of a user confirm how old they really are, but the followers themselves must meet certain criteria – they must be at least 18 years old, must not be vouching for anyone else at that time and will need to meet other safeguards Instagram has in place. However, Instagram later informed that Social Vouching was removed as an option to verify age.
Users can, thus, choose to follow the on-screen instructions and upload a video selfie, which Instagram will share with UK-based identity startup Yoti for verification. Yoti will then estimate their ages based on their facial features and share the data with Meta before the image is deleted by both companies.
“We’re partnering with Yoti, a company that offers privacy-preserving ways to verify age. Yoti is verified by the Age Check Certification Scheme and is the leading age verification provider for several industries worldwide including social media, gaming, and age-restricted e-commerce. Expert and governmental organizations in youth and privacy, including the German regulator KJM, have publicly endorsed Yoti for their approach and expertise in responsible artificial intelligence (AI),” Instagram shared.
Of course, one of the simplest ways to verify one’s age is by uploading identifications (such as a driver’s license or ID card), which Meta will delete within 30 days. In either case, the information provided after the age verification process will not be visible on users’ profiles, to friends or other people on the platform, Instagram confirmed.