Admitting that it is not easy to detect and remove accounts belonging to people under the age of 13, Facebook has said that it is looking at ways to convince people under age 13 to not lie about their age, including using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Facebook and Instagram weren’t designed for people under the age of 13, so the company is now creating new ways to stop those who are underage from signing up.
“We’re developing AI to find and remove underaged accounts, and new solutions to verify people’s ages. We’re also building new experiences designed specifically for those under 13,” said Pavni Diwanji, VP of Youth Products at Facebook.
Facebook is also working with operating system (OS) providers, internet browsers, and other providers so they can share information to help apps establish whether someone is of an appropriate age.
“Many argue that collecting ID is the answer to this industry problem, but there are significant limitations to this approach: many young people don’t have an ID, ID collection isn’t a fair or equitable solution, nor is it foolproof,” the company said.
It said that access to government IDs varies depending on where you live in the world, as does the information contained in an ID such as a birthday.
“Some have access to IDs but don’t get them unless they choose to travel, and some simply can’t afford one. Indeed, lack of ID access disproportionately impacts underserved communities around the world, particularly young women,” Facebook mentioned.
Currently, when people open Facebook apps to sign up for an account, they are asked for their birthday. This is called an age screen.
But verifying someone’s age is not as simple as it might sound. While age screens are common in our industry, young people can — and often do — get around them by misrepresenting their age.
“The reality is that they’re already online, and with no foolproof way to stop people from misrepresenting their age, we want to build experiences designed specifically for them, managed by parents and guardians,” Diwanji said in a statement.
This includes a new Instagram experience for tweens.
“We believe that encouraging them to use an experience that is age-appropriate and managed by parents is the right path. It’s going to take a village to make this experience compelling enough so that this age group wants to use it, but we’re determined to get it right,” the company emphasized.
Facebook has already developed a technology that allows it to estimate people’s ages, like if someone is below or above 18.
“We look at things like people wishing you a happy birthday and the age written in those messages. We also look at the age you shared with us on Facebook and apply it to our other apps where you have linked your accounts and vice versa. So if you share your birthday with us on Facebook, we’ll use the same for your linked account on Instagram,” Diwanji explained.
The social network said that it is focused on using existing data to inform its artificial intelligence technology.
“Where we do feel we need more information, we’re developing a menu of options for someone to prove their age. This is a work in progress and we’ll have more to share in time,” said Facebook.