Starting today, we’re testing new options for people on Instagram to verify their age, starting with people based in the US. If someone attempts to edit their date of birth on Instagram from under the age of 18 to 18 or over, we’ll require them to verify their age using one of three options: upload their ID, record a video selfie or ask mutual friends to verify their age. We’re testing this so we can make sure teens and adults are in the right experience for their age group.  We are also partnering with Yoti, a company that specializes in online age verification, to help ensure people’s privacy.

In 2019, we began asking people to provide their age when signing up for Instagram. Since then, we’ve made this a requirement. Knowing people’s age allows us to provide appropriate experiences to different age groups, specifically teens.  

We require people to be at least 13 years old to sign up for Instagram. In some countries, our minimum age is higher. When we know if someone is a teen (13-17), we provide them with age-appropriate experiences like defaulting them into private accounts, preventing unwanted contact from adults they don’t know and limiting the options advertisers have to reach them with ads.

Testing New Ways to Verify Age

In addition to having someone upload their ID, we’re testing two new ways to verify a person’s age:

  1. Video Selfie: You can choose to upload a video selfie to verify your age. If you choose this option, you’ll see instructions on your screen to guide you. After you take a video selfie, we share the image with Yoti, and nothing else. Yoti’s technology estimates your age based on your facial features and shares that estimate with us. Meta and Yoti then delete the image. The technology cannot recognize your identity – just your age.
  2. Social Vouching: This option allows you to ask mutual followers to confirm how old you are. The person vouching must be at least 18 years old, must not be vouching for anyone else at that time and will need to meet other safeguards we have in place. The three people you select to vouch for you will receive a request to confirm your age and will need to respond within three days.

You will still be able to upload your ID to verify your age with forms of identification like a driver’s license or ID card. We will use your ID to confirm your age and help keep our community safe. Your ID will be stored securely on our servers and is deleted within 30 days.

Product mocks of ID upload screens

Product mocks for age verification

We worked with international youth, privacy and safety experts to inform our approach. You can learn more about these three options and how to set them up.

Partnering With Yoti 

We’re partnering with Yoti, a company that offers privacy-preserving ways to verify age. Yoti is verified by the Age Check Certification Scheme and is the leading age verification provider for several industries around the world including social media, gaming and age restricted e-commerce. Expert and governmental organizations in youth and privacy, including the German regulator KJM, have publicly endorsed Yoti for their approach and expertise in responsible artificial intelligence (AI). 

Yoti notes that it trains its dataset on anonymous images of diverse people from around the world who have transparently allowed Yoti to use their data and who can ask Yoti to delete their data at any time. For people under the age of 13, Yoti collected data using specific data collection exercises where parents or guardians have given explicit consent.

Product mocks of age verification

Using AI to Understand People’s Ages

In addition to testing the new menu of options to verify people’s ages, we also use AI to understand if someone is a teen or an adult. AI helps us prevent teens from accessing Facebook Dating, adults from messaging teens and helps teens from receiving restricted ad content, for example. Our goal is to expand the use of this technology more widely across our technologies. To learn more about how our technology works, and the advancements we’re making in artificial intelligence, you can review our AI blog post.

Our Approach to Privacy 

The information provided in each age verification option is used to confirm your age and won’t be visible on your profile, to friends or other people on Instagram. If you choose to upload a video selfie to verify your age, Meta and Yoti delete it once your age is confirmed. Your video is not used for anything else other than to verify your age. If you choose to upload an ID, after you send us a copy of your ID, it’ll be encrypted and stored securely. 

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. 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.

We still believe an effective way of addressing this problem is for devices or app stores to provide apps with people’s ages, allowing teens to be placed in age-appropriate experiences across all the apps they use. In the absence of industry standards or regulation on how to effectively verify age online, we’ve invested in a combination of technologies that are more equitable, provide more options to verify age and that protect the privacy of people using our technologies.

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