July 5, 2022

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Instagram Testing Tool to Verify the Age of Some Underage Users

Instagram is testing a new tool to verify the age of underage users who may try to say they’re adults, the app’s parent company, Meta, said Thursday. If someone whose account says the user is under 18 years old tries to manually edit the date of birth on the app, Instagram will ask for proof.

There are three ways people will be able to prove their age. One, Instagram will ask the user to provide a legal ID or driver’s license to verify their age. Another way is called social vouching where three other adult users will be asked to verify your age. Those three adult users can’t be vouching for anyone else at the time and they must respond to the request within three days.

The last way Instagram will verify a users age is with a video selfie. If you choose this option, Instagram will show you instructions on what to do, and the app will share the selfie with Yoti, a company that verifies the age of users. Yoti’s technology reportedly estimates the age of users based on facial features, according to Meta. The selfie is then deleted.

However, the tool won’t catch younger users that have already told the platform they are adults. The company requires people to be at least 13 years old to sign up for Instagram, but there is no mention on whether this new tool will be used to verify the correct age of children. 

Instagram has faced several investigations over the past year over the app’s impact on teens. Attorneys general from several states, like Massachusetts, California and Florida, began investigating Instagram’s parent company Meta saying Meta knew Instagram could harm children’s mental and physical health. 

The Wall Street Journal published a series partly based on some leaked documents, including an article about how Facebook knows Instagram is “toxic” for teen girls, worsening their body image and mental health.

Meta said the documents were being “mischaracterized” and noted the study also showed some teens felt better about their body image after using Instagram.

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