Instagram begins testing video selfies to identify users over 18
Instagram has released a new set of tools designed to determine the age of users. If you claim to be over 18, you will need to provide the platform with a video selfie so the AI can take a close look at you. Alternatively, you may also be asked to submit a photo of your personal ID or ask adult friends to certify that you are well over 18.
The test has been rolled out to US users, and if successful, it will become a standard feature and roll out globally. If you’re already on Instagram, you’re good to go. But you will see the new features in two scenarios. One, if you just signed up, and two, if you’re trying to change your age from under 18 to 18+. You may have made a mistake setting your date of birth, but you could also be a teenager trying to be an adult – Instagram has no way of knowing. Or in fact, now it is.
It should be noted that Instagram still requires users to be at least 13 years old to register. In some countries, the minimum age is higher. “When we know if someone is a teenager (13-17), we offer them age-appropriate experiences, such as default access to private accounts, prevention of unwanted contact with adults they does not know and the limitation of the options that advertisers have to contact them advertisements”, Instagram writing.
So what if you do or change your age to be over 18? First, Instagram will ask you for a valid ID. It can be your driver’s license, your passport, your identity card… Anything with either your full name and photo or your full name and date of birth. You can find the list of eligible IDs at Instagram’s help pageand this is mandatory if you claim to be over 18 years old. Instagram says your ID will be stored securely on their servers and deleted within 30 days, and I’ll just leave that here.
In addition to uploading your ID, you can choose one of two new options:
Selfie video: Instagram has partnered with Yoti for this feature. It’s a company that “specializes in privacy-preserving ways to verify age,” as Instagram describes it. If you choose this option, you will see instructions on your screen to guide you on how to position your head and take the selfie. “After taking a video selfie, we share the image with Yoti, and nothing else.” Instagram claims. AI then estimates your age based on your facial features and shares that estimate with Instagram, after which Meta and Yoti then delete your image. “Technology can’t recognize your identity, just your age,” Instagram reassures us.
Social deposit: This is another option you can choose and it doesn’t require sharing your selfies beyond the ones you already post on your Instagram profile. It allows you to ask your common subscribers to confirm your age. “The person vouching must be at least 18 years old, must not be vouching for anyone else at the time, and will be subject to other safeguards we have in place,” Instagram rating. “The three people you select to vouch for you will receive a request to confirm your age and must respond within three days.”
The video selfie feature was first discovered in 2021. XDA Developers found it, and social media consultant Matt Navarra posted it to his Twitter. The difference is that it was not intended for age verification, but to check if a human was behind the account. Interestingly enough, Instagram claimed at the time that there would be no AI involved when analyzing video selfies. I wonder what they would have to say now.
For one, young children are using the social media app even though they are well below the age limit. So it’s a good idea to use more tools to check if users are really as old as they say they are. But on the other hand, asking for video selfies and personal ID from a company notorious for multiple data breaches… Is that really a good idea? All in all, it just proves there’s no way to win. At least if we want to have an Instagram account.