Technology for anonymous age verification

The technology is already being used for Facebook Dating and Instagram
| Photo source Yoti

Computing & Tech

A new facial recognition technology is being used to verify the ages of social media users

Spotted: Social media is a great tool to connect, but without proper supervision it can be a dangerous place for children. This is why, in the US, UK, and much of the EU, social media users must be 13 or over or have parental permission before they can sign up. In addition, online services are not allowed to collect or store the personal information of anyone under the age of 13 (in some European countries, this age limit rises to 16). Because of this legal jeopardy, social media companies are more eager than ever to find a way to verify users’ age. Startup Yoti now has a solution.

Rather than verify using ID documents, which can be easily faked, Yoti uses facial recognition technology. The company’s platform is powered by a neural network, which has been trained on millions of images from Yoti users who have opted into this use of their data. The company claims that its age verification system is accurate for 6 to 12 year olds with a mean absolute error of 1.36 years and of 1.52 years for 13 to 19 year olds.

While facial recognition for children may seem less preferable than an improvement in data privacy, the company has used ‘privacy by design’ principles in creating its system. Yoti claims that no individual can be identified by the system – only their age. They also point out that, by eliminating the need for ID documents, its platform actually encourages data minimisation and privacy. Yoti points out that their technology “is a scalable solution which is quicker and more accurate than manual ID checks”.

Once used primarily in law-enforcement, checking ages on social media is just one of the growing uses for facial recognition technology. Springwise has also spotted the technology being used in innovations such as fully autonomous convenience stores, apps that allow users to try clothing or glasses before they buy online, and even to provide access to an autonomous sommelier ‘wine wall’.

Written By Lisa Magloff

19th December 2022



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Lisa Magloff