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Facebook: How Do We Know Someone Is Old Enough to Use Our Apps?

Facebook and Instagram weren’t designed for people under the age of 13, so we’re creating new ways to stop those who are underage from signing up. We’re developing AI to find and remove underaged accounts, and new solutions to verify people’s ages.  We’re also building new experiences designed specifically for those under 13. As per…

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  • Facebook and Instagram weren’t designed for people under the age of 13, so we’re creating new ways to stop those who are underage from signing up.
  • We’re developing AI to find and remove underaged accounts, and new solutions to verify people’s ages. 
  • We’re also building new experiences designed specifically for those under 13.

As per our terms, we require people to be at least 13 years old to sign up for Facebook or Instagram. In some countries, our minimum age is higher. When people open our apps to sign up for an account, we ask them for their birthday. This is called an age screen. Those who are underage are not allowed to sign up, and we restrict people who repeatedly try to enter different birthdays into the age screen. But verifying someone’s age is not as simple as it might sound. While age screens are common in our industry, young people can — and often do — get around them by misrepresenting their age. So how are we addressing this problem?

Understanding people’s age on the internet is a complex challenge across our industry, and we already have various methods of finding and removing accounts used by people who misrepresent their age. For example, anyone can report an underage account to us. Our content reviewers are also trained to flag reported accounts that appear to be used by people who are underage. If these people are unable to prove they meet our minimum age requirements, we delete their accounts. 

Many argue that collecting ID is the answer to this industry problem, but there are significant limitations to this approach: many young people don’t have an ID, ID collection isn’t a fair or equitable solution, nor is it foolproof. Access to government IDs varies depending on where you live in the world, as does the information contained in an ID such as a birthday. Some have access to IDs but don’t get them unless they choose to travel, and some simply can’t afford one. Indeed, lack of ID access disproportionately impacts underserved communities around the world, particularly young women. Even if they did have an ID, some young people may be uncomfortable sharing it. For example, perhaps they’re a young member of the LGBTQ+ community and they worry about having their identity attached to a pseudonymous account.

While these are not new problems to solve, we will continue to invest in finding the right solutions. We need to keep people who are too young off of Facebook and Instagram, and we want to make sure that those who are old enough receive the appropriate experience for their age. Today, we’re sharing how we’re tackling this issue from multiple angles. Here are a few examples. 

Using AI to Detect Age

Artificial intelligence is the cornerstone of the approach we’re taking. We’ve developed technology that allows us to estimate people’s ages, like if someone is below or above 18. We train the technology using multiple signals. We look at things like people wishing you a happy birthday and the age written in those messages, for example, “Happy 21st Bday!” or “Happy Quinceañera.” We also look at the age you shared with us on Facebook and apply it to our other apps where you have linked your accounts and vice versa — so if you share your birthday with us on Facebook, we’ll use the same for your linked account on Instagram. This technology isn’t perfect, and we’re always working to improve it, but that’s why it’s important we use it alongside many other signals to understand people’s ages. 

This technology is also the basis of important changes we’re making to keep young people safe. We’re using it to stop adults from messaging young people that don’t follow them on Instagram. And we announced today that we will no longer showing posts from young people’s accounts, or the accounts themselves, to adults that have shown potentially suspicious behavior. We plan to apply this technology across our apps to create more age-appropriate experiences and safety measures for young people. We’re also building similar technology to find and remove accounts belonging to people under the age of 13. 

We’re focused on using existing data to inform our artificial intelligence technology. Where we do feel we need more information, we’re developing a menu of options for someone to prove their age. This is a work in progress and we’ll have more to share in time.

Working With Industry Partners

We’re also in discussions with the wider technology industry on how we can work together to share information in privacy-preserving ways that helps apps establish whether people are over a specific age. One area we believe has real promise is working with operating system (OS) providers, internet browsers and other providers so they can share information to help apps establish whether someone is of an appropriate age. 

This has the dual benefit of helping developers keep underage people off their apps while removing the need to go through differing and potentially cumbersome age verification processes across multiple apps and services. While it’s ultimately up to individual apps and websites to enforce their age policies and comply with their legal obligations, collaboration with OS providers, internet browsers and others would be a helpful addition to those efforts.

Building Experiences for People Under 13

We’re also looking at ways we can reduce the incentive for people under the age of 13 to lie about their age. The reality is that they’re already online, and with no foolproof way to stop people from misrepresenting their age, we want to build experiences designed specifically for them, managed by parents and guardians. This includes a new Instagram experience for tweens. We believe that encouraging them to use an experience that is age appropriate and managed by parents is the right path. It’s going to take a village to make this experience compelling enough so that this age group wants to use it, but we’re determined to get it right.

Working With Experts

We believe this comprehensive plan is the right one for Facebook and Instagram, but the natural question for readers is how we’re going to do everything in a way that respects people’s privacy, and prioritizes safety at every turn. We’re fortunate to draw from multiple industry experts, organizations and bodies of research here. 

First, to help us develop new products and features for young people, in 2017 we convened a group of experts in the fields of online safety, child development and children’s media to share their expertise, research and guidance. This group, known as the Youth Advisors, helps shape our work by providing feedback on the development of new products and policies for young people. We meet regularly with the group, which includes the Family Online Safety Institute, Digital Wellness Lab, MediaSmarts, Project Rockit and the Cyberbullying Research Center. 

We recently expanded this group to add new experts in privacy, youth development, psychology, parenting and youth media, and will continue expanding to include a diverse range of global perspectives. Our new members include: Jutta Croll at Stiftung Digitale Chancen, Pattie Gonsalves at Sangath – It’s Okay To Talk, Vicki Shotbolt at ParentZone UK, Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble at AAKOMA Project, Rachel Rodgers at Northeastern University, Janis Whitlock at Cornell University and Amelia Vance at the Future of Privacy Forum. 

Next, we continue to welcome productive collaboration with lawmakers and elected officials to guide us. Age verification is a focal point of multiple new and proposed regulatory frameworks on data protection, online harm and child safety. In particular, the ICO Age Appropriate Design Code, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Irish DPC’s Children’s Fundamentals and the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive, among others, underpin the work we’re doing to create privacy and safety standards for building youth products at Facebook. We plan to share these standards publicly in the coming months.

Finally, we’ll continue to take part in dialogues about age verification, developing industry best practices and forming new technical standards. For example, we recently joined the Advisory Board for the euCONSENT Consortium to help develop EU-wide infrastructure for online age verification and parental consent. 

This is complex territory, with competing interests and considerations. We’re committed to working with experts and the broader industry to give young people a compelling and safe experience on our services.

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Accelerate sustainability progress and business growth with Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability — starting June 1

It’s a moment we’ve been building toward — new capabilities from Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability that will enable faster, broader transformation for organizations at varying stages of their sustainability journey. We are pleased to announce the general availability of Cloud for Sustainability on June 1. Now, a growing set of ESG (environmental, social and governance)…

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It’s a moment we’ve been building toward — new capabilities from Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability that will enable faster, broader transformation for organizations at varying stages of their sustainability journey. We are pleased to announce the general availability of Cloud for Sustainability on June 1.

Now, a growing set of ESG (environmental, social and governance) capabilities from Microsoft and our global ecosystem of partners will give organizations the opportunity to accelerate their progress and business growth.

Watch the video.

Turning sustainability commitments into action with better data intelligence

To stabilize our future and build more quickly toward a global net-zero carbon economy, organizations of all types, sizes and sectors are facing the need to transform common practices. This includes more effectively managing their environmental footprint, embedding sustainability through their organizations and value chains, and making strategic business investments that drive value. And this starts with solving a data problem.

Organizations need more accessible, centralized data intelligence to make the high-stakes decisions that are required right now to address complex issues, weighing both business and ESG criteria to direct capital toward investment opportunities that balance growth and impact.

Wherever organizations are in their sustainability journey, together, we can accelerate progress to reach our collective goals.

Microsoft is energized about helping our customers accelerate their progress. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solutions will provide the intelligence and data management capabilities organizations need to respond to changes with agility and confidence.

Building on more than a decade of work on sustainability

Our own sustainability journey began when we set our first carbon goal more than a decade ago. This led us to better organize our data and realign our company’s vision and strategy with our sustainability goals. We continue to build on our commitments to innovate and invest in technologies that address environmental sustainability and to transparently share our achievements and setbacks so that we can all learn together. We’re also considering how to deliver on our ESG commitments while continuing to grow our business and drive shareholder value — not an easy challenge!

Now, with the release of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, we’re bringing together powerful capabilities delivered by Microsoft and our partners to help organizations:

Unify data intelligence. To effectively drive sustainability reporting, sustainability efforts, and business transformation, organizations need better visibility into activities across their enterprise and value chain. Collecting and connecting IoT data from devices using sensors — combined with rich services at the edge or in the cloud — provides the basis to monitor and measure activities at scale. And now, Microsoft Sustainability Manager will empower organizations to more easily record, report and reduce their environmental impact through increasingly automated data connections that deliver actionable insights.

This extensible Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solution centralizes previously disparate data in a common data format and offers organizations an increasingly comprehensive view into the emissions impact of their entire operations and value chain.

Sustainability Manager is available for a free test drive or to purchase June 1.

Build more enduring IT infrastructures. Organizations can reduce their environmental impact and increase business value when they replace tools, systems, or activities with more efficient options. Moving workloads to the cloud, for example, can increase both carbon and energy efficiencies. Emissions Impact Dashboard applications provide Microsoft customers with transparency into emissions produced from their use of Microsoft cloud services. Devices also contribute to an organization’s environmental footprint. Surface devices maximize sustainability of materials and extend product life while minimizing product carbon footprint and energy consumption.

Reduce the environmental impact of operations. With digital solutions delivered through Microsoft and our growing partner ecosystem, we’re already helping organizations maximize asset and production efficiencies, reduce the environmental impact of their buildings and spaces, and advance their transition to clean energy.

Create more sustainable value chains. Digital technologies are also helping organizations facilitate greater transparency and accountability through their value chain, from raw materials to product creation to distribution. A data-first approach can help organizations achieve data integrity and gain the visibility they need to drive efficiencies, reduce emissions and design out waste.

Learn more about how we’re helping organizations achieve positive impact on Microsoft.com/sustainability.

Global partners, a critical piece to extending impact

Much of this important work is being achieved through collaboration with our global ecosystem of partners who have helped us land our ambitions and transform our business. Today, they’re also pivotal to helping customers advance sustainability through robust, innovative solutions powered by the Microsoft Cloud.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability partner solutions span industries, from transportation to real estate to manufacturing, such as these early solutions that are already in market:

There are many more solutions coming. Our sustainability partner ecosystem also includes trusted advisers like these, who are actively helping organizations plan, design and implement strategies to enable sustainable growth:

Learn more about breakthrough work being done by our sustainability partners on Microsoft AppSource.

What’s next?
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability availability coincides with Hannover Messe 2022. Watch for news and announcements around this keystone industry event — and stay tuned for additional solutions and capabilities.

Tags: Cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, sustainability

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Facebook: Giving Senior Dogs Loving Homes

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Celebrating many identities within a global community of impact: An Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month conversation

Srinivas Prasad Sugasani: It’s such fun to connect with you on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As Asians and Pacific Islanders, I feel that we have so much to celebrate. At the same time, as we think about some of the events and realities that we have navigated recently, I’m curious from your perspective,…

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Srinivas Prasad Sugasani: It’s such fun to connect with you on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As Asians and Pacific Islanders, I feel that we have so much to celebrate. At the same time, as we think about some of the events and realities that we have navigated recently, I’m curious from your perspective, Jane, what do you feel is different about this past year?

Jane Hesmondhalgh: We’ve continued on our journey of working to create an inclusive culture at Microsoft. And there is still a gap between our aspired culture and everyone’s lived experiences today. For some, that gap may be small; for others it may be larger. But the fact that at Microsoft we have this value system we’re aspiring to is, I think, very much aligned to the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

We’re consistently working toward respect, accountability and high integrity at Microsoft. I would say that our continued work to make progress is not so much different this year, but that we’re focusing even more effort on it.

Unfortunately, this past year we have seen the continued trend of acts of hate toward Asians globally. But the fact that Microsoft is strongly supporting the community in the face of those is super critical for the community. And that much-needed support is not a one-time event where we say something and then we’re on to the next thing. It’s the ongoing recognition that acts against violence, injustice and inequities across the world are unacceptable.

SPS: That’s right. We’ve also been focused on community education in the wake of this alarming rise in acts of hate and violence — how the community can leverage safety practices, and how can we work with the local government communities to increase safety.

JH: Our Inclusion Council has also been really engaged in these discussions. Other examples of sustained commitment to the community include the events we’ve done to engage with external experts in ongoing learning such as Microsoft Include, and of course the support of our Asians at Microsoft Employee Resources Group (ERG). I have heard from the community specifically that one of the most powerful things they’ve attended this year are our community calls, where people have had the opportunity to talk through how they’re feeling with others who may have experienced similar things.

SPS: Based on what we heard from our community, we’ve also been increasingly focused on how we strengthen and support the advancement of the ERG and its members at the company. I am really proud of how we’ve been working with outside experts on leadership development across the company, all the way from entry-level employees to the most senior in the company. This is the kind of year-round investment that is directly benefiting the community.

JH: I’m so passionate about this piece — the leadership education for Asians and Pacific Islanders. When I started as the sponsor for the Asians ERG, that was the No. 1 feedback, that the community wanted unique and tailored leadership education.

As we know, there are 4.7 billion people in this broad community across the world. Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 60% of the world population. That really strikes me. Because within that, there are so many different perspectives. So, a question for you is, how do we ensure that different types of conversations and perspectives from the entire community are brought in?

SPS: As you said — 60% of the global population! And we are trying to represent diversity within the community at that scale. It’s actually one of our strategic pillars in our ERG — including all community members. I think we’re doing a really good job with that. The leadership team has ensured that we include many voices, and as a result of that diversity of thought, we’ve seen new steps and actions being taken. For example, we had an Asians ERG art exhibition. We had a day of remembrance where people could talk about their practices, cultures, ancestors. We had a stand-up comedy event. And we’ve focused specifically on women inventors. Those are just a few examples.

So, focusing on the many dimensions of identity within our global community ensures that we can all share our experiences and learn from each other.

JH: This leads me to reflect on the word “community” and what does that mean? With a global team located all over the world, how do we bring everybody together in a sense of community? At Microsoft the community is a combination of people, cultures and beliefs. So, I think that community piece is our connection to the history across the Asia Pacific region. Within this vast land mass, we can appreciate and understand the differences and uniqueness of the people in the sub-communities and societies. We talked earlier about Microsoft’s culture and values. I think one thing that helps us is that Asian values around integrity and respect are very similar to the company’s. And then of course we go beyond respect to actually celebrating our cultures. Each of our ERG chapters and groups, each culture, is a contribution that is valuable to the world.

And these values are actually critical for the work ahead, right? This year, next year and beyond, we want to tackle the biggest problems that divide us as a society. And we’ve got that microcosm of society within our Asian and Pacific Islander community. We can play a huge role in landing the mindset of interconnectivity and learning both within and outside the company. Each person must be committed to driving positive change, be more intentionally inclusive in the workplace and build our empathy. With this, we can build momentum to meet the challenges of the world.

SPS: Well said Jane. As you’re speaking, I’m thinking about my own personal journey as well. Part of my life I lived on a farm in a small village. I experienced a community there where everybody looked like me, spoke like me with a very similar kind of language. When I lived in various cities, that was the first time I’d experienced people looking like me but speaking different dialects.

And then when I started working on a multinational level, I encountered people who had such a range of cultural differences from me. What I’ve learned is whether it is living in a village, in a small community or at the global level, human values remain the same. I’ve realized more recently that as things become more complex, more turbulent, and we do not know what future will hold, the constant is the values that we all stand for. And that is true across the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and all across Microsoft and our nine ERGs and many dimensions of identities.

JH: You know, I never thought about it in this way but because you shared a little bit about your own background, I’ll share something about when we moved from the U.S. back to the U.K. In his new school, my son felt left out, and suddenly struggled with questions around “I am British, but do they think I am American or Chinese?” He didn’t feel that sense of belonging, and all these new questions of identity came up which he held to himself. Things did get better, but it reminds me that it’s all of our responsibility to help each other understand that while people are different, everybody has something to offer. People need to feel like they’re valued and that they can contribute without being judged.

SPS: It is so true. Thank you for sharing that. Are there any misperceptions about the Asian and Pacific Islander community that you would like to address?

JH: I’ve heard people say things like, gosh Asians are good at math and science, and they have an easier entry to STEM fields and occupations. I don’t know that I would ever categorize it as easier or not easier. There are many Asians who are not good at math and science, right? It’s a generalization, and there are a lot of these.

Another misconception is that because the Asian population is large, there are a lot of Asian leaders. But actually, the statistics have shown that we’re the least likely of all racial groups to become managers and executives. We need more role models and pathways to that senior level, which is where those development efforts we spoke about earlier come in. And of course, some other misconceptions came up during the pandemic around Chinese people.

So again, what combats these types of misconceptions and harmful stereotypes is learning and building our understanding and empathy for one another.

SPS: I absolutely agree. We will continue this work with the Microsoft communities and our leadership. I look forward to the impact we will make in the coming year. Thank you so much, Jane, for the chance to have this conversation. I look forward to our celebrations and recognition this month!

JH: Thank you, Srinivas! Happy Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Tags: diversity, inclusion

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