According to screenshots provided to Twitter by social media strategist Matt Navarra, Instagram is requesting some users to produce a video selfie displaying different angles of their face to verify that they’re a real person. Bot accounts, which can send spam messages, harass individuals, or artificially inflate like or follower counts, have long plagued the social network, and it’s probable that Meta (previously Facebook, Instagram’s parent company) is looking to this function to assist combat their popularity.
The business began testing the functionality last year, but ran into technical hurdles, according to XDA Developers. Several customers have stated that they were requested to record a video selfie to validate their current accounts.
Bettina Makalintal, another writer on Twitter, shared a screenshot of the help screen for the step where you actually take the video selfie — it reiterates that it’s looking at “all angles of your face” to prove that you’re a real person, and it shows that the verification screen is appearing for multiple people.
It’s unclear whether this feature is currently a test or slowly rolling out — I made several attempts at setting up a sketchy-looking Instagram account and was never presented with the video challenge. Meta didn’t immediately respond to the request for comments about the feature or its rollout.
Given Meta’s recent revelation that one of its Face Recognition services would be shut down, the move may come as a surprise to some. However, the business has subsequently clarified that it was simply shutting down a single Facebook function, not Meta’s entire usage of face recognition. The wording at the bottom of the screenshot further says that face recognition would not be used and that the video will be erased after 30 days.
Meta’s assurance that the data will not be stored or shared may not be enough to comfort some users who are already wary of Facebook. People may recall a problem that allowed attackers to gain access to Instagram users’ purportedly private birthday information (which would soon be required to use the service) with only a DM. Of course, Instagram hasn’t pledged to destroy that birthday information like it has with the video selfie, but it’s hard to blame anyone (especially children or those who want to remain anonymous) for being hesitant to provide such information.