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Facebook introduces Yoti age estimation in Australia ahead of global rollout

Nation grapples with teens’ social media use
Facebook introduces Yoti age estimation in Australia ahead of global rollout
 

Meta Australia is introducing age verification for the country’s Facebook users if they try to edit their age from under 18 to older using Yoti’s technology, ahead of a global rollout of the feature.

Australian Facebook users can use Yoti’s biometric facial age estimation or submit an ID document to prove they are 18 or above, B&T reports.

Meta says that the same tools, introduced on Instagram beginning in 2022, have proven 96 percent successful in catching teens attempting to misrepresent their age with an update.

“Following the success of the age verification tool on Instagram, we have been working behind the scenes for some time to see this feature expanded on our Facebook app in Australia, ensuring that everyone has age-appropriate experiences on Facebook,” Meta Group Industry Director Naomi Shepherd told B&T.

Yoti is also one of the first crop of biometric facial age estimation developers to submit its algorithms for assessment by NIST.

Rules could change, eventually

Meanwhile, premiers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia are suggesting the age at which Australians are able to create accounts on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok should be raised from the current 13. The federal government is also evaluating its options.

Anonymity on social media is also in the crosshairs of Australia’s official opposition. Liberal Party Members of Parliament are suggesting that social media firms should be required to collect 100 pieces of identity data from all users to ensure they are not posting anonymously, Information Age reports.

“The identification of people who use social media accounts is as important as age verification,” says Liberal MP Andrew Wallace.

Government MPs responded that this would mean Australians would have to submit identity documents to China-based TikTok, and that the suggestion exceeds the scope of recommendations from the eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

The government has amended the Basic Online Safety Determination, a regulation for online service providers, to increase visibility into how many children are using social media platforms, Information Age reports in a separate article. But Grant says a ban on access would have to come after the establishment of “effective age assurance systems.”

A study from the University of Sydney says that half of teens aged 12 to 17 use Snapchat daily, and nearly two-thirds use Instagram every day.

The dialogue in the country is rife with confusion, compounded by the simple fact that the countries pioneering online age assurance rules are yet to reach the point of enforcement, where effectiveness can be determined.

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