Instagram will try to guess your age with a simple selfie

The subsidiary of Meta is taking new measures to try to limit the access of minors to certain functions of its platform. And notably introduces a facial analysis technology capable of predicting the age of a user thanks to a video.

Facebook, like Instagram, is in theory prohibited at least 13 years old. The rule is clear, its application much less: many children register on the platform by inventing themselves a few years older.

A real problem for Meta, which is less and less forgiven for this laissez-faire. But Mark Zuckerberg’s teams have more than one trick up their sleeves to try to solve this problem. Yesterday, the company announced new options for verifying age on Instagram beyond the traditional photo ID.

The most surprising is the result of a partnership with the British company Yoti, which specializes in online identity management. The latter has developed a technology that allows, after taking a “video selfie”, to measure the age of a user according to certain characteristics of his face. To do this, it relies on a neural network trained on tens of thousands of faces of individuals of different ages, genders and skin colors.

Almost perfect identification

And according to Yoti’s figures, the measurement made is rather precise, even if it is obviously not perfect. His tool would be able to discriminate with a success rate of 98.91% if children between 6 and 11 years old are indeed under 13 years old. Its margin of error would be 1.56 years for children aged 6 to 12, and 1.52 years for adolescents aged 13 to 19.

Obviously, the use of such technology raises questions, especially when pushed by Meta, a company with little reputation for its respect for our personal data. In its press release, Instagram therefore wishes to recall that Yoti’s technology does not in any way identify an individual, and that the images are immediately deleted once the estimated age of the person has been calculated.

This technology is already being tested in the United States, and it’s a safe bet that Instagram will expand the countries covered in the coming months. It will be used for the time being when a user changes their date of birth in order to suddenly exceed the age of 18.

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