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Are you for real? Instagram is asking users to verify themselves through videos

The feature kicks in if an account shows suspicious behaviour leading them to check if the account is authentic.

Days after Facebook shut down facial recognition usage on its platform, Instagram has evidently been asking users for video selfies to prove their accounts are authentic, a report by The Verge reveals. To be sure, Instagram said on Twitter that these videos are reviewed by its teams, and that facial recognition is not used for it.

The feature came to light after several users took to Twitter to express their surprise at being asked to verify themselves via video selfies.

Earlier this month, Facebook had announced it was stopping Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) use, citing societal concerns. The company has previously been fined with relation to FRT-based tag suggestions for not taking permission for it, and not informing users about how long their data would be stored.

Instagram has said that it has struggled to gauge spam and fake account prevalence on its platform for quite some time. In Meta’s latest transparency report, Instagram said it could not provide numbers on spam and fake account prevalence on its platform. In case of the former, it said that it has been detecting spam through manual methods, which it said does not ‘fully capture this type of highly adversarial violation’.

When does Instagram ask for videos?

Instagram had rolled out the feature last year, which according to reports was rolled back in the interim due to technical troubles, but seems to be back again.

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According to Instagram, the feature kicks in if an account shows suspicious behaviour leading them to check if the account is authentic. “For example, if the account likes lots of posts or follows a ton of accounts in a matter of seconds, video selfies help us determine if there’s a real person behind the account or not,” the photo-sharing platform said in a tweet. Users are then asked to send video selfies showing their faces at different angles, which are reviewed and deleted within 30 days.

Have you been asked to authenticate yourself by Instagram? Leave a comment and let us know how and when this happened.

How other platforms have tried to verify accounts similarly

Before Instagram, user verification through selfies and videos had already been adopted by other platforms.

In 2016, Bumble reportedly launched a selfie-based verification system for its app.

In 2019, researcher Jane Machun Wong found that Facebook was testing a facial recognition system on its mobile app to verify whether users are humans or bots.

In 2020, Tinder launched selfie-based verification for its users. In August 2021 it announced it will be further expanding this to include ID-based verification.

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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