Instagram is introducing technology to help verify the age of users in the UK and EU as part of a major security update.
Starting today, anyone who tries to change their birthday on Instagram from under 18 to over 18 will be prompted to verify their age by uploading their ID or recording a video selfie that will be analyzed by independent age estimation technology.
Instagram said the new system will help ensure users have an age-appropriate experience on the platform.
Online safety campaigners have long called for age verification technology to become mandatory online to protect children from inappropriate and potentially harmful content.
Instagram’s age estimation system sees the company working with British tech company Yoti.
The two companies said that after a user saves their selfie, it is shared with Yoti, which uses its technology to analyze facial features and then shares an age estimate with Instagram.
They note that Yoti’s technology is not facial recognition technology and therefore cannot identify or recognize anyone – only estimate the age of the face shown to him.
No account details are shared with Yoti during this process and the image is instantly deleted by Yoti and Instagram after age estimation, according to the companies.
Instagram began testing the system in a number of other countries earlier this year.
Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s Director of Public Policy, said: “We want everyone to experience Instagram in an age-appropriate way, which means we need to know how old they are – and that’s what they’re all about. is a challenge in our sector.
“That’s why today’s announcement is such a significant milestone and why we’re especially excited to be working with Yoti as they lead the way in creating effective age verification technology, while giving confidentiality priority.
“This work complements our ongoing efforts to improve our age detection technology and to develop new ways to provide teens with the safest and most meaningful experience on Instagram.”
Julie Dawson, Policy and Regulatory Director at Yoti, said, “Proving age online is a complex industry-wide challenge.
“We are excited to continue our work with Meta to create age-appropriate experiences and empower people to thrive and be safe online.
“Our Face Age Estimator is a privacy-preserving solution. We designed it to give everyone a secure way to prove their age without sharing their name or ID.
“Technology can enable minors to access age-appropriate content, while protecting user privacy. Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction to create safer online environments.
In response to the announcement, the NSPCC said it was happy to see action taken, but said the action did not go far enough and suggested the tools should be applied to everyone on the site. .
Richard Collard, Head of Policy and Regulation at the NSPCC, said: “With Ofcom research showing that a third of under-18s on social media have admitted to creating adult accounts, it is crucial that Instagram take the necessary steps to ensure that these children are not exposed. risk or harm.
“But these measures will apparently do little to prevent new young users from creating adult accounts on Instagram or to protect children who already use them.
“This halfway house is exactly why the government needs to quickly introduce a strong online safety bill that ensures every social media site has a legal duty to protect children from harmful content on their platforms. -form.”