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Meta adds age verification feature to Facebook Dating

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta announced it would roll out new age verification technology on Facebook Dating to help make social media safer for younger users. A similar system is already in place on Instagram.

Facebook’s answer to a dating site, Facebook Dating, is going to introduce age verification to the platform in order to ensure that only those over 18 are using the adult section of the app.

The feature will work in two ways. Facebook Dating, online since 2019, will ask users to show proof of their age by uploading an ID document. But if there isn’t one, a technology from the British company Yoti will be used.

Yoti, an online age-verification company, has developed a tool that analyzes selfies taken by users to determine their most probable age. Meta confirmed that the new feature will first roll out in the US, and the United Kingdom is expected to follow.

Facebook Dating is adding age verification. Courtesy of Meta.

The company said in a press release it wanted to make sure “people are placed in experiences” suitable for their ages. Meta aims to find potential discrepancies in the ages people provide when they create or edit accounts.

“We’re committed to making sure people have age-appropriate experiences across our technologies, and as part of this work, we’ve been testing age verification tools and using age detection technology to stop people under the age of 18 from accessing experiences meant for adults”, Erica Finkle, Meta’s Director of Data Governance, said.

Similar measures were recently introduced on Instagram. Anyone who tries to edit their date of birth by changing it from under the age of 18 to over 18 has to verify it by providing an ID or a video selfie that uses age estimation technology.

Meta says the online age-verification company, Yoti, doesn’t identify users when it uses partial facial features to estimate a user’s age. “After you take a video selfie, we share a still image from the video with Yoti and nothing else,” Finkle said and added that the image is deleted immediately after its analysis.

ID upload is also a secure process, Meta claims. After a user uploads a copy of their ID, it’ll be encrypted and stored safely, not visible on their Facebook profile or to other people on the app.

Yoti says its system is very accurate: its rate of correctly identifying 13 to 17-year-olds as under 23 years old is 99.65 percent. However, the data also shows Yoti’s accuracy is worse for female faces and people with darker complexions.

Also, it doesn’t appear there are any requirements for adults to verify their age on Facebook Dating, like, for example, making sure a 52-year-old is not pretending to be 18.

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