Instagram is asking some users to provide a video selfie showing multiple angles of their face to verify that they’re a real person, according to screenshots posted to Twitter by social media consultant Matt Navarra. 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, and it’s possible that Meta (formerly Facebook, Instagram’s parent company) is looking to this feature to help curb the prevalence of bots on the platform.
According to XDA Developers, the company started testing the feature last year but ran into technical issues. Multiple users have reported being asked to take a video selfie to verify their existing accounts.
Another writer on Twitter, Bettina Makalintal, posted 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 shows that the verification screen is showing up 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 request for comment about the feature or its rollout.
The move may surprise some, given Meta’s recent announcement that it would be shutting down one of its Face Recognition features. As the company has since reiterated, though, it was only shutting down a specific Facebook feature, not Meta’s use of facial recognition as a whole. The message on the bottom of the screenshot also implies that the feature won’t use face recognition at all and that the video will be deleted after 30 days.
Meta’s promise to not store or post the data may not reassure some users who are already distrustful of Facebook. People may remember the time when a bug let attackers access Instagram users’ supposedly private birthday info (which you’ll soon be required to provide to use the app) with just a DM. Of course, Instagram hadn’t promised to delete that birthday info like it says it’ll do with the video selfie, but it’d be hard to blame people (especially minors or those who want to stay anonymous) for feeling uncomfortable with providing that data.