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Instagram takes Yoti facial age estimation to Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan

Instagram takes Yoti facial age estimation to Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan

Meta Platforms is continuing its pilot of age verification via facial age estimation technology from UK firm Yoti in a range of new countries worldwide. The verification step is required when Instagram account holders whose age is set at below 18 attempt to change their age to being over 18.

Meta provides a way to upload physical ID and offers Yoti’s facial analysis tool as an alternative.

“Today we will be publishing an update to our existing blog post [links to Meta and Instagram] which will detail how from today, we’re beginning to expand our age verification test on Instagram to more countries in Europe, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and Japan,” states Meta.

“We plan to make our age verification tools available in even more countries globally within the next few months.”

Instagram began its pilot of Yoti age estimation in June 2022, initially in the U.S. and initially alongside social vouching from other account holders, subsequently dropped in October. The user activates the selfie camera, the system captures an image, runs it through its neural network, returns a yes/no to being assessed over 18 and deletes the image.

The pilot was expanded to Brazil and India in October 2022 and then to the UK, where a survey found that only 8 percent of parents would choose facial scanning for their children’s faces for age assurance. Meta rolled out the tech to Facebook Dating in the U.S. in December 2022 and reported that the age estimation prevented 96 percent of teenagers attempting to edit their date of birth to make them over 18.

Commenting on the latest expansion, Tara Hopkins, Instagram Public Policy director says: “We want everyone to experience Instagram in a way that’s appropriate for their age, which means we need to know how old they are – and this is a challenge across our industry.

“That’s why today’s announcement is such an important step, and why we’re particularly excited to be working with Yoti, who are leading the way in building effective technology to verify age, while putting privacy first. This work complements our ongoing efforts to improve our age detection technology, and to develop new ways to give teens the safest and most meaningful experience possible on Instagram.”

Julie Dawson, chief policy and regulatory officer at Yoti comments: “Our facial age estimation is a privacy-preserving solution. We built it to give everyone a secure way to prove their age without sharing their name or an ID document. The technology can allow minors to access content which is appropriate for their age, whilst protecting the privacy of users.

“Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction to create safer online environments.”

Yoti has also been trialling its facial analysis for age verification in retail settings around the world. In a new report, it finds that customers buying age-restricted products prefer it to other age verification approaches.

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