The Daily Mail actually used a 'wildly inaccurate' age guessing app to judge child refugees

Getty images/edited by indy100

The Daily Mail has run a follow-up story about age checks on child migrants from Calais.

Not satisfied with the Home Office efforts, which involve a number of factors including whether clear documentary evidence has been provided by the individual supporting their claim, whether the individual has been subject to a Merton compliant age assessment by a local authority and been assessed to be 18 years of age or under, which must be signed off by two social workers, and their physical appearance and demeanour, they decided to implement some tests of their own.

This involved running a photo through some facial recognition software.

The article explained:

Analysis of his picture by Microsoft’s face recognition program How Old Do I Look? suggested he had the facial features of a 38-year-old, although the software company cautioned it was just an estimate.

People were quick to pick up on the software used, which, as Verge reporter James Vincent tweeted, is Microsoft's age-guessing facial recognition app.

It's pretty often hilariously inaccurate.

So I ran a photo of myself through the software:

Clearly, the Independent's hiring policies are illegal.

For reference, I am 23 years old. Though there's no way of you checking this for sure with a biological test - it doesn't exist.

My colleague a few mere months older than me, also had a go:

The app also thinks David Davies MP, the one who earlier in the week tweeted skepticism over the children looking older than they are...

...and quoted in the piece...

This is just a joke. Some of these people are clearly not children, they’re not even young men. 

This one has got lines around his eyes, lines on his face and what appears to be flecks of grey in his hair. a good decade older than he actually is too, according to the app (he's 46).

The app is clearly a far cry from Mr Davies' call for dental tests for anyone attempting to come to the UK in this capacity.

Many others have also pointed out the flawed methodology:

Here's a 17-year-old Wayne Rooney.

Original picture:Original picture: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

If that wasn't enough, the blanket message after seeing an age guess by the app reads:

Sorry if we didn’t quite get the age and gender right – we are still improving this feature.

To cite this app as any kind of evidence of age is clearly completely ludicrous - and Microsoft agrees.

Microsoft has repeatedly said in previous statements that the app is experimental.

A spokesperson for the company told indy100: was designed to be an example of how developers could build a fun app using modern development practices. It is not intended to be used as a definitive assessment of age.


For more information on Home Office procedure for asessing age, you can see a document here.

More: People are sharing pictures of their younger selves to debunk these horrible front pages about refugees

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