Instagram’s New Feature: Video Selfie Recognition

By Khalidha Naushad | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 20 2021
Tech Talk Instagram’s New Feature: Video Selfie Recognition

By Khalidha Naushad

A recent report from xda-developers.com announces that Instagram now uses video selfies for identity verification. Apparently, this feature does not collect any biometric data and will only be used for verification since there is an enormous increase in bots and fake ids. It was initially spotted by a social media consultant, “Instagram is now using video selfies to confirm users identity. Meta promises not to collect biometric data,” Matt Novara tweets. Identity verification ideally happens when a new user registers on the platform, so existing users are not being asked to go through the video selfie process yet.

According to the original report from xda-developers.com, Instagram started using this feature last August but ran into technical issues. It seems like the bug has been fixed because this feature is available to many new users globally. A screenshot posted by the social media consultant, Matt Novara shows how this video recognition feature works, “We need a short video of turning your head in different directions. This helps us confirm that you’re a real person and confirm your identity,” Instagram says. The platform’s AI will analyse the selfie video and confirm that a user is a real person.

Although it promises not to collect biometric data, it cannot be ensured so, as Meta-owned Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were blamed for failures in ensuring privacy for user data. It also claims that the video will not be saved for more than 30 days and will never be shown on the platform.

An anonymous comment in an article posted by verge.com explains how this feature has convinced him/her to shut the accounts down, “Got hit with this a couple of days ago on a web browser on my account which I’ve had for years. Previously Instagram would occasionally, randomly, make me ‘give’ them my mobile number to unlock my account (which I would then delete once I was back in) but this is a step way too far and a fairly awful invasion of privacy. I am sure it is just a explains coincidence that they want you to provide all the biometric data they would need to create a 3d model of your face.” 

The comment continues, “I’ve been a Facebook user since pretty much day one and Instagram user since it launched on IOS and honestly, I think this is the thing that has finally convinced me to shut my accounts down (or in the Instagram case, leave it blocked!). Before it became this corporate behemoth, back at the start, Facebook has been enjoyable, “Now, it’s become this parasitic thing constantly craving as much or your personal information as it can scrape from you to sell to its advertisers, profilers, political organisations, ‘influencers’ and the rest. 

The ‘downsides’ that Facebook/Instagram has on its users are now well-documented,” the comment reads. “The fear of losing a quick way of keeping in touch with people has kept me on the platform this long but even by modern standards this is so blatant and distasteful, you can keep your ‘meta verse,’ thanks!” concludes the comment.

On the other hand, the social network has long struggled with bot accounts, which can leave spam messages, harass people, or be used to artificially, inflate like or follower counts. Instagram has long had a bot problem, and it’s not exactly a secret. According to Business2Community, there’s an estimated 95 million bot accounts on the image-sharing network, comprising almost 10 per cent of the social media giant’s one billion users. This could be Instagram’s decision to help curb the prevalence of the ever-increasing number of bots.

It is quite unclear if the feature is completely launched or slowly rolling out. According to Instagram’s recent tweet on 17 November, Instagram does not use facial recognition, and they do not use it in video selfies. It introduced video selfies more than a year ago to help confirm that there is a person behind an account and not a bot. “One of the ways we use video selfies is when we think an account could be a bot. 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.”

Meta’s assurance that the video or other data will not be stored or published may not be enough to comfort some users who are already wary of Facebook. It is hard to blame people for being hesitant to provide that video, and if Instagram intends to preserve this feature, they will almost certainly get into another scrap with their users.

By Khalidha Naushad | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 20 2021

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