Instagram is testing a trial in which it scans users’ faces to prove they are over 18

Instagram said Thursday it was transitioning to a new method of verifying users’ ages: scanning their faces in videos.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • Instagram said it is trying new ways to verify users’ ages, including scanning their faces.
  • Alternatively, users can also have three friends vouch for their age or upload images of their IDs.
  • The trial started on June 23 in the US.
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Instagram is testing new ways to verify users’ age, including scanning their faces.

The company announced the trial, which began on June 23 and is currently rolling out in the US only in a blog post. The trial is aimed at users who try to change their age in the app from under 18 to over 18. Those users have three ways to verify their age: upload a photo of their ID, ask three mutual friends to verify their age. verify, or take a video selfie.

If a user selects the video selfie method, Instagram passes the videos to Yoti, a London-based identity verification startup. Yoti will scan the user’s facial features in the videos to confirm their age, the company said.

Both Yoti and Instagram will delete the data once they verify the user’s age, according to the announcement. The London startup’s algorithm only verifies the user’s age and not their identity, Instagram wrote, citing a white paper by Yoti.

Instagram said the process will allow it to offer age-appropriate content to its users.

“Understanding someone’s age online is a complex, industry-wide challenge. We want to work with others in our industry and with governments to establish clear standards for online age verification,” the company wrote in the blog post.

If a user chooses to submit a photo of their ID to confirm their age, the image will be removed after 30 days, the company said.

Instagram has come under fire from parents and critics who say the company exposes minors to harmful content. In 2019, Instagram started checking the ages of users to prevent people under the age of 13 from creating accounts. In August, it started asking existing users to enter their birthdays. And in September, Facebook — whose Instagram has since rebranded as Meta — suspended the launch of Instagram Kids, a version of the app it had built for kids under 13.

Other social media companies have also scanned users’ faces to ban minors from using their platforms. French social networking site Yubo said in May it was working with Yoti to capture images of users’ faces to identify minors. China’s Tencent said in January it would study users’ faces when they log in to limit children’s playtime on its platform.

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