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Facebook and AI

September 11, 2021

To join Facebook you need to be above the age of 13, and these strict rules apply to both Facebook and Instagram users. This age limit can be even higher in some countries. So, why is this rule in place? 

The main reasons why children under the age of 13 are not allowed to use these social media sites is because there is a concern about their safety, and in some countries it is the law. Sadly, there are a number of people on the internet who demonstrate suspicious behaviors, and these individuals should not be able to contact younger users. 

Teens are also encouraged to make their profiles private in order to protect themselves from distrustful people. 

However, each year a vast number of people under the age of 13 violate this rule and sign up to social media sites. How do they manage this? There are numerous ways to get around these restrictions; people lie about their age, individuals create fake accounts and some people ask other people to register them on the site. 

Facebook is constantly looking for new ways to detect underage users. And one way they’ve thought about  recently is to use Artificial Intelligence. Keep on reading to learn more about this. 

How Can AI Help To Detect A Person's Age? 

AI will be used to analyze and check various signals that are given on a person’s account. For example, if someone wishes a user a ‘Happy 17th Birthday’ this information will be checked against the age the person gave when they signed up. 

Additionally, if the person uses other apps, the AI can check if the age given on both platforms is the same. 

Facebook’s AI can also work with other providers (OS or internet browsers) to limit the problem. 

Another way AI can help teens is by providing them with experiences designed specifically for their age group. This way they’ll have access to age appropriate tools that are safe, and perhaps these tools can be managed by parents. 

Why Is Detecting An User’s Age Important?

Knowing someone’s correct age makes the internet a safer environment, but it also has other benefits... 

If you know the real age of a user, then AI can show that person age-appropriate content, which in turn provides a better user experience. 

Ultimately, having an online presence is extremely important for teens and pre-teens today, so making sure that what they interact with and see is safe is absolutely vital. 

What Else Could Be Done To Make Sure People Are The Right Age? 

One of the possible ways to prevent underage users from registering is by asking them to provide an ID. On the surface this seems like a good idea, but it’s not actually as straightforward as it may seem.

The main issue with asking people to provide ID is that not everyone has an ID. Many young people don’t actually have any form of ID, so unless they go out to get something to show their age, like a passport, there isn’t anything to show to prove how old they are. 

In addition to this, it’s not always possible for people to get an ID as it is expensive. So, this measure aimed at stopping age misrepresentation may not be as effective. 

On the other hand, if a user is able to provide an ID that has a photograph, AI can analyze it. AI can look at the photo to see if the person looks as old as the date of birth states on the ID. AI would look at the face, and try to detect any wrinkles and spots to decide how old the person in the photo is. This process does, however, need a lot of tweaking to make sure that the age given by the AI is right.

Another idea is to use Facelytics — it can detect age in real-time via a camera. But its implementation still has to be considered. 

Final thoughts

The technologies described above are quite promising but all of them require thorough testing. 

Testers need to look at this AI approach from the user’s perspective, and they need to make sure that the end-users' experiences are satisfactory.


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