Instagram age checker can analyze videos with faces

Age verification on Instagram — or rather, lack of it — has been a burning issue for parents and legislators alike for some time now. The owner of the Meta app has so far made no effort to ensure that users’ age claims are correct, but says it is testing three verification options.

However, even if one or more of them are implemented, it still will not be a big barrier for underage children who claim to be older…

Background

Instagram claims that use is restricted to teens and adults. The youngest age you can open an account is 13 years old.

However, Instagram does not currently verify the claimed age. All you have to do to open an account is provide a date of birth, and Meta doesn’t try to verify that. Indeed, some longtime Instagram users didn’t even need to provide a date of birth until the company belatedly added that requirement.

A study last year found that more than 40% of children under the age of 13 use Instagram and other social networks that claim to exclude them. Both parents and legislators are urging the company to address the issue.

The issue gained even more urgency when a study of 2,000 American children using Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Snapchat found that a third of minors had experienced “online sexual interaction” that included asking for or receiving nude photos. The worst platforms for reporting sexual abuse were Instagram and Snapchat, with 16% of minors on both platforms reporting sexual interactions.

Instagram Age Tests

Instagram said today that it is currently testing three age verification options.

[There are] three options: upload your ID, record a video selfie, or ask mutual friends to verify their age. We’re testing this to make sure teens and adults are in the right experience for their age group. We also partner with Yoti, a company that specializes in online age verification, to ensure people’s privacy.

The company explained how the latter options work.

Video Selfie: You can upload a video selfie to verify your age. If you choose this option, instructions will appear on the screen to help you. After you take a video selfie, we share the image with Yoti, and nothing else. Yoti technology estimates your age based on facial features and shares this estimate with us. Meta and Yoti then delete the image. The technology cannot recognize your identity – only your age.

Social Vouching: This option allows you to ask your general followers to confirm how old you are. The voucher must be at least 18 years of age, must not vouch for anyone else at that time, and must comply with other security measures we have in place. The three people you choose to vouch for you will receive a request to verify your age and must respond within three days.

Sight

As it was said in the sitcom “Yes, Minister”, the headline gives, and the small print takes away.

First, checks will only be performed when a user tries to change their date of birth from a date of birth under 18 to a date over 18 (which removes some of the restrictions that apply to teen accounts).

Starting today, we’re testing new options for people on Instagram to verify their age, starting with people living in the US. If someone attempts to change their date of birth on Instagram under the age of 18 to 18 or older, we will require them to verify their age.

There will be no attempt to verify existing users of the application or those who open an account. It is the very definition of doing as little as possible in an attempt to appear responsible.

Second, while Yoti claims a 98.91% accuracy in identifying children aged 6 to 11 as under 13, it is noteworthy that no data is provided for 12-year-olds. Also, for children aged between 13 and 17, the only data given is intended to correctly identify them as under 23, which is completely irrelevant in this context.

It’s Meta that pretends to care, but does nothing to reduce the number of users.

Image: N. Hanacek/NIST