Instagram has been figuring out better ways to manage and engage with younger and older users for years—not only to better comply with regulations, but to better target age-appropriate and relevant content and advertising to them. As a final step, the Meta-owned platform is testing a range of new features — video selfies, adult friend voting and providing an ID card — aimed at verifying that people are saying they’re 18 or older.
The test covers US users who may now see these options when attempting to change their age from under 18 to 18+.
There are two basic use cases for this new verification system: adults who accidentally registered as teenagers trying to enter their correct age; and teenagers trying to circumvent the platform’s age-appropriate restrictions. Instagram has regularly made changes to these restrictions, including setting up accounts for younger people, which are set to private mode by default.
In particular, this does not change the verification at registration, where you have to enter your date of birth. Company policy requires you to be at least 13 years of age to sign up for the Service.
If you change your age from under 18 to 18 in the United States, you will be prompted to select one of the options above. You may present an ID such as a passport or driver’s license for verification. The company stores your ID on its servers for 30 days before deleting it.
If you don’t have a valid ID listed on Instagram’s list of acceptable IDs, you can choose the video selfie method of age verification. Instagram has partnered with London-based digital identity startup Yoti for this part of the review. Once a user uploads the video selfie, Meta shares it with Yoti, who verifies their age using their specially trained AI. After completing the verification process, both companies delete the data.
In his whitepaper on the technology, Yoti claims that the AI can only estimate your age, but not identify you. The company said it trained its model using images from users around the world who have consented to their data being used for research purposes.
The third way to verify your age is called social vouchering. This method requires three of your 18+ friends to vouch for your age and they cannot vouch for anyone else at that moment. The company said the voucher will receive the list of six people at random with no family member on it.
The people you select for this process will receive a confirmation request and have three days to respond. The people who vouch for you will be given options to indicate your age range, such as: B. under 13 years old, 13-17 years old, 18-20 years old, 21 years old or older or I’m not sure. All three must select the same option for your age verification to be approved.
Meta said that any information you provide for age verification is private and not visible to anyone. The company also noted that devices and app stores should conduct these reviews so that teens can safely use all apps and services.
“Understanding a person’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 online age verification. Many people, like teenagers, do not always have access to forms of ID that make age verification clear and easy. As an industry, we need to find new ways to address the dilemma of verifying a person’s age when they don’t have ID,” the company said in a statement.
Meta added that it’s continually evolving the AI to detect users who lie about their age. While it doesn’t scan photos and videos, it does look for signals like birthday posts to determine a user’s true age. The AI is also helping the company keep the teens away from adult experiences like Facebook dating and mentoring.
Instagram first introduced age verification in 2019 by asking for birth dates when registering. Later in 2021 it became mandatory for everyone to provide their date of birth.
In the same year restrictions were introduced for teenagers, such as B. the default account privatization for users under 16, blocking DMs from unknown adults, and stopping advertisers from serving targeted ads based on teens’ interests and activities. Instagram’s rival, TikTok, also introduced similar restrictions on users under the age of 18 last year.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Instagram knew its platform impacted the mental health of young users but ignored its impact. After facing setbacks, the company took many steps, such as: B. putting off its plans to develop a dedicated kids app and rolling out stronger parental controls. Instagram’s new age verification methods are another attempt to protect teens from harmful content.