Instagram testing new ways for teens to verify they’re 18 years old

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A person using Instagram.

Lorenzo Di Cola | NurPhoto via Getty Images

Instagram announced Thursday that it’s testing new options in the U.S. to verify that users are 18 years old.

To address the concerns of lawmakers and parents, Instagram is requiring users who attempt to edit their age from under 18 to 18 or over to confirm their age by either uploading a photo ID, recording video selfies or asking mutual friends to confirm their age.

The stricter age checks come after Instagram was criticized for affecting the mental health of young users last year. After facing backlash, the company rolled out more tools for parental controls such as Family Center.

Instagram said age verification would allow them to ensure that teens and adults have age-appropriate user experiences.

Instagram, owned by Facebook parent Meta, said that it will send video selfies to Yoti, a London-based company that uses AI to estimate age based on facial features. Meta said the technology can’t recognize any other identity except for age.

Yoti and Meta will delete video selfies once the age is confirmed, the company said.

Instagram in 2019 began requiring people to provide their age when registering. There’s also a minimum age of 13 years old to sign up, the company said.

“Understanding someone’s age online is a complex, industry-wide challenge. We want to work with others in our industry, and with governments, to set clear standards for age verification online.” Meta said in a press release, “Many people, such as teens, don’t always have access to the forms of ID that make age verification clear and simple. As an industry, we have to explore novel ways to approach the dilemma of verifying someone’s age when they don’t have an ID.”

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