Instagram is now testing an AI system that will scan people’s faces for their age

Instagram said today that it’s testing some new technologies to help it verify people’s age, including an artificial intelligence tool that might be able to tell folks how old they are.

People who use Instagram should be at least 13 years of age, but this has not always been the case. It wasn’t until 2019 that Instagram even asked for a person’s birthdate. It is this app that has really come under the spotlight of late for how much damage it can do to the mental health of a young person, so Instagram owner Meta Platforms Inc. has promised to ensure that younger kids are not allowed on the platform.

These days, Instagram does have some age-verification tools on its platform, and the company has added some other features that may well separate younger users from potentially creepy older users, but more is being done in this regard, it said today.

One of the new features is simple enough. In some cases, friends of users or family of users will be asked to verify the age of the young person. But what’s more interesting is the artificial intelligence Instagram will introduce that will scan a person’s face for age. Instagram is doing this with Yoti, a company that develops such AI tools.

In the case of face scanning, users will have to upload a selfie and Instagram will then send that to Yoti. This technology will not be able to identify the person, only use a neural network to assess the person’s age. “Our technology is accurate for 6- to 12-year-olds with a mean absolute error (MAE) of 1.36 years and of 1.52 years for 13- to 19-year-olds,” Yoti says in a white paper. “These are the two age ranges regulators are most focused upon in order to ensure that under 18s do not have access to age-restricted goods and services.”

Although one would think such technology would struggle given that some young people look younger and others look older, Yoti has already been approved in some European nations as a reliable system that can accurately identify a person’s age. In tests by a third-party company, when used to assess if people were older than 18, it had an accuracy rate of 98.89%.

“In addition to testing the new menu of options to verify people’s ages, we also use AI to understand if someone is a teen or an adult,” Meta said in a blog post. “AI helps us prevent teens from accessing Facebook Dating, adults from messaging teens, and helps teens from receiving restricted ad content, for example. Our goal is to expand the use of this technology more widely across our technologies. ”

Photo: Instagram

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