Instagram has been tinkering for years with better ways to manage and engage with younger and older users, not only to be more compliant with regulations, but to better target age-appropriate and relevant content and advertising. In the latest move, the Meta-owned platform is testing a new set of features: video selfies, adult friend endorsements and providing an ID, designed to verify when people say they’re 18 or older.
The test covers US users, who will now potentially see these options if they try to change their age from under 18 to 18 or older.
There are two basic use cases for this new verification system: adults who have registered as teenagers by mistake and try to enter their correct age; and teens trying to circumvent the platform’s age-appropriate restrictions. Instagram made regular changes to those restrictions, including setting up accounts for younger people in the default private mode.
Notably, this does not change the check in the registration process where you must enter your date of birth. According to the company’s rules, you must be at least 13 years old to register for the service.
In the US, when you change your age from under 18 to 18 or over, you will be prompted to select one of the options listed above. You can provide an identification card such as a passport or driver’s license for verification. The company will store your identification for 30 days on its servers before deleting it.
If you don’t have a valid ID on Instagram’s list of acceptable IDs, you can choose the video selfie method to verify age. Instagram has partnered with Yoti, a London-based digital identity startup, for this part of the verification. Once a user uploads the selfie video, Meta shares it with Yoti, which verifies her age using its specially trained AI. Once the verification process is complete, both companies delete the data.
In his white paper on the technology, Yoti states that the AI can only estimate your age, but cannot identify you. The firm said it has trained its model on images from users around the world who have consented to their data being used for research.
The third way to verify your age is called Social Vouching. This method involves three of your friends over the age of 18 who need to vouch for your age, and can’t vouch for anyone else at the time. The company said the coupon gets the list of six random people without any family members.
The people you choose for this process will receive a confirmation request and must respond to it within three days. Respondents for you will get options to specify their age range, such as under 13, 13-17, 18-20, 21+, or not sure. All three must choose the same option for their age verification to pass.
Meta said that all the information you provide for age verification is private and will not be visible to anyone. The company also noted that devices and app stores must perform these checks so that teens can have a safe experience across all apps and services.
“Understanding someone’s age online is a complex challenge for the entire industry. We want to work with others in our industry and with governments to set clear standards for online age verification. Many people, such as teenagers, do not always have access to forms of identification that make age verification clear and easy. As an industry, we need to explore novel ways to address the dilemma of verifying someone’s age when they don’t have an ID,” the company said in a statement.
Meta added that it is continually developing AI to detect users who lie about their age. While it doesn’t scan photos and videos, it looks for cues like birthday posts to identify a user’s true age. AI also helps the company keep teens away from adult experiences like Facebook Dating and Mentorship.
Instagram first introduced age verification when requesting dates of birth during signup in 2019. Later in 2021, it made it mandatory for everyone to provide their date of birth.
The same year, it rolled out restrictions for teens, such as making accounts private by default for users under 16, blocking direct messages from unknown adults, and preventing advertisers from running targeted ads based on teens’ interests and activities. . Instagram rival TikTok also introduced similar limitations for users under 18 last year.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Instagram knew its platform affected the mental health of young users, but ignored its impact. After facing backlash, the company took many steps, including shelving its plans to develop an app dedicated to children and implementing stronger parental controls. Instagram’s new-age verification methods are yet another attempt to protect teens from harmful content.