Photo-sharing social network Instagram has partnered with British digital identification startup Yoti to roll out facial age estimation technology in the UK to verify whether a user is a teen or an adult.
From Monday, UK Instagram users editing their date of birth to 18 or over will be given the option to upload a video selfie instead of uploading a copy of their ID. Yoti’s software uses artificial intelligence to provide an estimate of the person’s age.
Meta-owned Instagram says this video is only shared with Yoti, does not identify or recognise individuals and will be deleted by both firms after the age is determined.
Instagram first partnered with Yoti, in June to trial its software with US users. The social media site added the Yoti verification to India and Brazil last month.
“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,” said Tara Hopkins, public policy director of Instagram.
It is the latest example of companies using digital technology for the thorny issue of online age verification. Privacy campaigners have said digital IDs are not necessary and risk alienating those who choose not to use the service.
Yoti’s technology is also accepted by the UK Cinema Association for those aged 13 and over to prove their age to watch films.
Founded in 2014, London-based Yoti has raised $20.1m (£17.6m) in funding and has a $99m (£86.5m) valuation according to Dealroom.
Meta is reportedly looking at other ways to use Yoti’s tech.
Julie Dawson, chief policy and regulatory officer, Yoti, said: “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 that is age appropriate whilst protecting the privacy of users.”