The photo sharing platform Instagram announced this Thursday that it began testing a tool based on artificial intelligence (IA) to confirm the age of its users in the United States.

Lawmakers around the world have demanded that the social networking service, owned by the US tech giant Goalprotect young people from adult content and invasions of their privacy.

According to tech companies, that issue isn’t easily resolved, but it could be addressed with broader technological changes, such as linking dates of birth to a person’s cell phone.

Meta announced the trial of new verification tools for anyone trying to change their age from under 18 to over 18 on the platform, including recording a selfie video or asking friends to verify their age.

“We’re testing this to make sure teens and adults get the right experience for their age group,” Meta said.

The video selfies will be sent to British firm Yoti, which has developed an artificial intelligence tool that it says can calculate the age of those under 20 to within 1.5 years.

Yoti’s own data suggests however that its tool is not as effective at verifying the age of women and girls, and people with dark skin.

Both Yoti and Meta said that the selfies will be deleted after verification.

In 2021, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri told US lawmakers that he felt it wasn’t Instagram’s job to verify users’ ages. “I think it would be much more effective to verify ages at the device level,” he said.

Instagram was rocked last year by revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen that firm executives knew the platform could harm the mental health of young people, particularly teenage girls. Since then, it has implemented various features aimed at protecting younger users.


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