From now on, Instagram users in the UK or EU will see new age verification tools on the platform as part of a major safety update to protect children.
Starting today, anyone trying to change their date of birth from under 18 to over 18 will have to verify their age via an ID card or video selfie, which will be checked by independent age estimation technology.
Instagram says the new update will help ensure an age-appropriate experience for its users.
Cybersecurity activists have long advocated for stronger child protections, especially in Molly Russell An investigation last month concluded that the 14-year-old girl was exposed to “Negative Effects of Online Content“.
Instagram will partner with British tech company Yoti to develop their age estimation system.
The companies explained that after a user records their selfie, it is shared with Yoti to analyze their facial features, and then an estimate of the user’s age will be sent to Instagram.
Crucially, the companies stress that Yoti’s technology is not a facial recognition service, so it cannot identify users and can only estimate the age of the faces shown.
In order to maintain privacy regulations, the companies ensured that no account details are shared with Yoti, and both companies delete the image as soon as the age is estimated.
Earlier this year, the social media platform began testing the system in several countries.
Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s director of public policy, said: “We want everyone to experience Instagram in a way that is age-appropriate, and that means we need to know their age – it’s an industry-wide challenge.
“That’s why today’s announcement is such an important step, and why we’re especially excited to partner with Yoti, who is leading the way in building effective technology to verify age, while putting privacy first.”
“Proving the age online is a complex, industry-wide challenge,” said Julie Dawson, Yoti’s chief policy and regulatory officer.
“Our facial age estimation is a privacy-preserving solution. We built it to give everyone a safe way to prove their age without sharing their name or ID.
“This technology allows minors to access age-appropriate content while protecting users’ privacy. Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction towards creating a safer online environment.”
Responding to the announcement, the NSPCC said it’s good to see steps being taken, but it’s not enough, and the tools should work for everyone on the site.
Richard Collard, NSPCC Policy and Regulatory Manager, said: “Ofcom’s research shows that one in three children under 18 on social media admits to having an adult account, so Instagram is taking the necessary steps to ensure these children are not at risk to important. or hurt.
“But these measures don’t seem to do much to stop new, young users from creating adult accounts on Instagram or protect children who are already using them.
“This compromise is exactly why the government needs to quickly enact a strong online safety bill that ensures every social media site has a legal obligation to protect children from harmful content on their platforms.”