Molly Russell's father hits out at Instagram for its safety controls

Molly Russell’s father hits out at Instagram for its ‘slow’ introduction of age verification software in the wake of inquest into his daughter’s death

  • Molly Russell’s father said Instagram is too ‘slow’ in introducing age verification
  • Ian Russell, who started campaigning after his daughter took her own life in 2017
  • Research found 25% of youngsters on social media lied about their date of birth
  • Instagram owner Meta said it will bring in facial recognition technology by 2023 

Molly Russell’s father has slammed Instagram for being ‘so slow’ in introducing age verification technology to protect children on the platform.

Research has found a quarter of youngsters on social media lied about their date of birth when signing up to platforms in order to access over-18 content.

And now Meta-owned Instagram, which has a minimum age limit of 13, said it is bringing in facial recognition technology ‘by the end of the year’ that can guess the age of a user when they upload a video selfie to ensure they are not lying. 

But the move has been criticised for only applying to current users who attempt to change their age rather than those who are newly signing up. The site only made it mandatory for users to provide their date of birth in 2021.

Molly Russell’s  (pictured) father has slammed Instagram for being ‘so slow’ in introducing age verification technology to protect children on the platform

Yesterday, Ian Russell, who started campaigning for internet safety after his daughter Molly took her own life in 2017 following a bombardment of self-harm and suicide content, said: ‘While any improvement to online safety is welcome, we would expect such a dominant global tech company to be leading the charge towards safety rather than being so slow out of the blocks.’

He added: ‘The recent Instagram announcement of the introduction of age verification tools is another example of an existing online safety technology which the Meta owned platform has been slow to adopt.’

Children’s safety on social media has come under the spotlight following the death of Molly, who took her own life after being bombarded with self-harm and suicide content online in 2017.

Ian Russell (pictured) started campaigning for internet safety after his daughter Molly took her own life in 2017 following a bombardment of self-harm and suicide content

In a report setting out how similar tragedies could be avoided in the future, senior coroner Andrew Walker called for platforms to introduce age verification.

Instagram only began asking people to provide their age when signing up in 2019. It took a further two years for this to become mandatory.

In its latest announcement, Instagram said it would employ facial recognition software to determine a user’s age.

Yoti, the company behind the facial recognition software, claims it can correctly guess if someone is under the age of 23 with nearly 100 per cent accuracy. It can further estimate the age of six to 19 year olds to within 1.5 years of their actual age.

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