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General News / June 23, 2022

Instagram trials AI tool to verify age of users

Image: Unsplash
General News / June 23, 2022

Instagram trials AI tool to verify age of users

Words: Ellen Kenny

It’s like a digital nightclub bouncer, but instead of alcohol, you get memes and lose your privacy.

Meta have announced plans to trial a tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to confirm the age of users.

The technology will initially be tested on users attempting to change their age from under 18 to over 18.

Instagram will ask those users to send a video of their face to British tech firm Yoti. Yoti says they have developed AI that can calculate the age of under 20s within a range of one and a half years.

Both Yoti and Meta promised that the videos would be deleted after the check, and that “the technology cannot recognise your identity – just your age.”

Yoti’s own data suggests its AI is generally worse at verifying the ages of women and girls, as well as people with darker skin.

Image: Unsplash

Lawmakers across the world have demanded that Instagram and Meta protect young people from adult content and invasions of their privacy. Children will now be protected by sending videos of themselves to strangers, apparently.

The company is also trialling age verification via “social vouching”, where mutual followers confirm the age of a user. The person vouching must be at least 18 years old, must not be vouching for anyone else at that time and will need to meet other safeguards to be eligible.

While the trial is beginning in the US, it will move to Europe if it is successful. Meta’s European headquarters are based in Dublin, so any European trial of the technology will likely begin in Ireland.

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