AP

Instagram tests using AI, other tools for age verification

Jun 23, 2022, 11:26 AM | Updated: Jun 27, 2022, 7:44 pm

Instagram is testing new ways to verify the age of people using its service, including a face-scanning artificial intelligence tool, having mutual friends verify their age or uploading an ID.

But the tools won’t be used, at least not yet, to block children from the popular photo and video-sharing app. The current test only involves verifying that a user is 18 or older.

The use of face-scanning AI, especially on teenagers, raised some alarm bells Thursday, given the checkered history of Instagram parent Meta when it comes to protecting users’ privacy. Meta stressed that the technology used to verify people’s age cannot recognize one’s identity — only age. Once the age verification is complete, Meta said it and Yoti, the AI contractor it partnered with to conduct the scans, will delete the video.

Meta, which owns Facebook as well as Instagram, said that beginning on Thursday, if someone tries to edit their date of birth on Instagram from under the age of 18 to 18 or over, they will be required to verify their age using one of these methods.

Meta continues to face questions about the negative effects of its products, especially Instagram, on some teens.

Kids technically have to be at least 13 to use Instagram, similar to other social media platforms. But some circumvent this either by lying about their age or by having a parent do so. Teens aged 13 to 17, meanwhile, have additional restrictions on their accounts — for instance, adults they are not connected to can’t send them messages — until they turn 18.

The use of uploaded IDs is not new, but the other two options are. “We are giving people a variety of options to verify their age and seeing what works best,” said Erica Finkle, Meta’s director of data governance and public policy.

To use the face-scanning option, a user has to upload a video selfie. That video is then sent to Yoti, a London-based startup that uses people’s facial features to estimate their age. Finkle said Meta isn’t yet trying to pinpoint under-13s using the technology because it doesn’t keep data on that age group — which would be needed to properly train the AI system. But if Yoti does predict a user is too young for Instagram, they’ll be asked to prove their age or have their account removed, she said.

“It doesn’t ever recognize, uniquely, anyone,” said Julie Dawson, Yoti’s chief policy and regulatory officer. “And the image is instantly deleted once we’ve done it.”

Yoti is one of several biometric companies capitalizing on a push in the United Kingdom and Europe for stronger age verification technology to stop kids from accessing pornography, dating apps and other internet content meant for adults — not to mention bottles of alcohol and other off-limits items at physical stores.

Yoti has been working with several big U.K. supermarkets on face-scanning cameras at self-check-out counters. It has also started verifying the age of users of the youth-oriented French video chatroom app Yubo.

While Instagram is likely to follow through with its promise to delete an applicant’s facial imagery and not try to use it to recognize individual faces, the normalization of face-scanning presents other societal concerns, said Daragh Murray, a senior lecturer at the University of Essex’s law school.

“It’s problematic because there are a lot of known biases with trying to identify by things like age or gender,” Murray said. “You’re essentially looking at a stereotype and people just differ so much.”

A 2019 study by a U.S. agency found that facial recognition technology often performs unevenly based on a person’s race, gender or age. The National Institute of Standards and Technology found higher error rates for the youngest and oldest people. There’s not yet such a benchmark for age-estimating facial analysis, but Yoti’s own published analysis of its results reveals a similar trend, with slightly higher error rates for women and people with darker skin tones.

Meta’s face-scanning move is a departure from what some of its tech competitors are doing. Microsoft on Tuesday said it would stop providing its customers with facial analysis tools that “purport to infer” emotional states and identity attributes such as age or gender, citing concerns about “stereotyping, discrimination, or unfair denial of services.”

Meta itself announced last year that it was shutting down Facebook’s face-recognition system and deleting the faceprints of more than 1 billion people after years of scrutiny from courts and regulators. But it signaled at the time that it wouldn’t give up entirely on analyzing faces, moving away from the broad-based tagging of social media photos that helped popularize commercial use of facial recognition toward “narrower forms of personal authentication.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

2 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

2 days ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

6 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

7 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

14 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Instagram tests using AI, other tools for age verification