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Instagram testing AI tool that will estimate your age

Instagram is tightening age restrictions on the platform and is employing artificial intelligence as a means of keeping underage users away.

Instagram officially only welcomes users 13 years and above on the photo-sharing social media site. However, the age restriction has been easy to work around, allowing minors to use the app. It may soon get harder to game the system as the platform is testing an AI tool that will verify a user’s age by scanning their faces. The tool is developed by Yoti and it will estimate your age based on your facial features.

Instagram is stepping up its age-verification game after facing a lot of backlash over how the platform affects the health of its younger users. About three years ago, Instagram was not even asking new users their age before joining. At the moment, Instagram asks users to verify their age if they attempt to change their age to 18 or above. This will require the user to provide a photo of their ID cards.

Users in the US now have two more options for verification. The first is social vouching, which means Instagram will enquire from three mutual followers about how old the user is. The followers have to be older than 18 years and must respond within three days.

The second option is the AI estimation mentioned already. However, it means your video will be sent to Yoti, a third-party company, which will use machine learning to guess your age.

Yoti is well-known for ID verification online, and its product is already being used by the UK government and regulators in Germany. Its technology will use various facial signals to determine a subject’s age. If you are curious about the signal, even Yoti claims not to know them.

The facial scanner is not 100 percent accurate, as can be seen from the chart shown below. It has different error rates based on age, gender, and skin tone.

Female users under the age of 24 and with darker skin will experience the most error statistically, and their age estimates can be wrong by up to 2.5 years. However, generally, Yoti is accurate in up to 98.89 percent of uses, as confirmed by an external party. The test involved using Yoti to check if people over 18 are over 25 or under. In practical terms, out of 10,000 users, up to 110 estimates may be wrong.

However, just how effective Yoti will be for Instagram is not clear yet. Yoti’s system has been fooled by users holding up their photos in front of their webcam. Yoti has a website where you test the AI tool (Yoti says it won’t retain your data on its server. This means younger users can theoretically bypass the check by using pictures of adults, perhaps an older friend or family member.

Instagram has been using AI since last year to try to detect underage users. It uses a tool to automatically scan a user’s birthday posts and the age of the friendship groups they belong to. This means that Instagram may flag you to verify your age if you claim to be 25 years but post about your 16th birthday. The platform said it would add more data points to the AI tool. It is also testing a tool that can analyze a user’s posts to determine if they are an adult or not.

Written by HackerVibes

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