Meta Testing New Age Verification Tools – Experts Explain Why They Won’t Work

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Last month, Facebook Parent Meta announced that it would test new ways for its Instagram platform to verify the age of its users. Users currently need to be at least 13 years old to sign up for social media services, while in some countries, the minimum age requirement is even higher.

Meta Yoti has partnered with a company that specializes in online age verification, and is now employing artificial intelligence (AI) as part of an effort to determine which users are teenagers and which are adults.

“We’re testing new options for people on Instagram to verify their age, starting with people based in the United States.” The company has announced. “If someone between the ages of 18 and 18 tries to edit their date of birth on Instagram, we’d like 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 it to make sure teenagers and adults have the right experience for their age. “

A first step

The fact that Meta is establishing these practices shows that it is taking the problem somewhat seriously and can be seen as an important first step.

“An obvious security advantage for age verification is that the intended ‘adult’ audience for the social media platform is only ‘adults’.” Dr. Brian Gant is an assistant professor of cybersecurity at Maryville University.

“A site that can promote their process and provide statistics provides comfort to all exceptionally useful stakeholders in preventing potentially potential crimes such as sexual exploitation, cyber bullying and even fraud,” Gant added. “You need to have multiple levels to be most effective with any level of security in applications or platforms. Age verification is an example of one of those levels but you can take it one step further with multi-factor authentication (MFA) and peer identification, such as video to confirm users age Submitted. “

However, even these efforts may not go far enough to protect minors.

“While this is an attempt to protect young people, it is seriously flawed. The age verification policy will not help protect minors or have a minimal impact,” explained Lois Ritter, associate professor of teaching. Masters in Public Health Program at the University of Reno, Nevada.

“New users can only lie about their age because the policy only refers to those who have an existing account. Existing users can create new accounts or skirt around age verification processes, including uploading their identification (ID), a video selfie. Record, or ask mutual friends to verify their age, which is called social vouching, ”Ritter added. “

Write digital fake ID?

Using someone else’s ID would be easier than trying to buy alcohol or enter a dance club, Ritter further noted, and warned that video selfies are equally flawed.

“Can artificial intelligence really tell the difference between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old,” he thought. “Also, using make-up, wigs and other props can make someone look older. Using artificial intelligence to estimate age is prone to error, and there are a lot of young people, especially those who are being trafficked, whose traffickers look older. Young people who are victims of trafficking. No, they may look older than them because they develop at different rates. “

There must be a similar problem with “social vouching” because it could potentially harm some children – such as sex traffickers or adults purchasing their services, Ritter said. “Also, my guess is that a system will be created to pay people for social vouching and it will become another source of illicit income. Just like people go inside a liquor store and pay to buy alcohol for them.”

Moreover, these age verifications do not seem to address the fact that underage teens can still share a password as an adult.

“Victims of sex trafficking can sign a trafficker using the trafficker’s account,” Ritter warned. “Traffickers often monitor or control the online behavior of trafficking victims so this is possible. For example, traffickers may need victims to engage with potential ‘clients’ online. This will not help traffickers post pictures of their victims or engage in virtual sex trafficking.”

What about information?

In addition to concerns that this information may not actually help protect children, there are also problems with how age verification information will be used. As we have already seen, social media companies have not proven to be completely reliable with user data.

“Consumers need to believe that social media platforms implementing this type of technology will delete data immediately after age verification,” Gant said. “Data is very important and those who have it hold the key to the kingdom. If companies use this data not only to verify age but also to confirm the identity of individuals, it is a very slippery slope.”

Ritter, more ruthless about these efforts, suggested, “This is a way to appease citizens concerned about the negative impact of the media platform on Congress and the youth. Unfortunately, this is not a public relations effort and a solution to the problem.”



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