kids on instagram

The US States Investigate How Instagram Targets Children

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The state of New York announced last week that it has opened investigations into how Instagram targets children. The probe was started after a group of parents filed complaints against the company for marketing practices on the app.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has been using tactics such as “influencers” and “sales incentives” to advertise products to young people who are not old enough to use the social media platform or purchase items.

The company has been facing criticism for its targeting of children and other questionable practices such as the use of what some people consider to be exploitative influencer marketing.

How Does Instagram Target Children? 

  • The article explains that Instagram has a large number of users below the age of 13. Despite this, it doesn’t have any restrictions for users under 13 years old to sign up and use the app.
  • According to an interview with a child psychologist, “younger children can’t fully understand how ads work” so they’re more exposed to advertising on social media platforms such as Instagram. This makes them very vulnerable because many advertisers target their campaigns towards younger audiences which may lead them to make decisions based solely on what advertisements tell them instead of taking the time to do research from other sources too.
  • The attorneys general in North Carolina and Illinois are investigating how Instagram profits from children’s activities on its app, such as watching ads, without having restrictions for users below 13 years old. By doing this, it violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which requires online services to get parental consent before collecting data on kids younger than 13 years old.
  • In addition to violating COPPA, Instagram is also being investigated for another issue: not deleting data collected from underage users when their parents request for it to be removed. Even though there are mechanisms in place that allow users or their guardians to delete their account or any of the content they’ve shared on the platform, Instagram still retains some personal information about these users.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also looking into whether or not Instagram’s privacy policy claims that the company deletes photos and videos when requested by a user, as well as how it tracks users online. This includes devices connected to Wi-Fi networks outside of the social media platform.
  • Earlier in 2018, Facebook was fined $122 million due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Instagram is a subsidiary of Facebook. The fines were because both companies allowed children under 13 years old to sign up for accounts without parental consent. This violates COPPA rules that protect online privacy for children.

How To Protect Your Child From Instagram Targeting? 

Instagram is facing growing pressure in the U.S., with states launching investigations into how it targets children on its social-media network, while Facebook said that new rules governing political ads will soon apply to Instagram as well.

State authorities are probing whether the photo-sharing service violated child privacy law by allegedly collecting data from minors for targeted advertising without parental consent. According to reports, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has requested information about Instagram’s practices following a complaint filed last year by consumer group Center for Digital Democracy and two families who claim their kids’ accounts were used to target them with ads promoting junk food and sugary beverages. The groups claimed that even when parents set age restrictions on an account preventing under-13s from joining Instagram, it was still possible for their children to access the service.

What Will Be With Instagram Targeting Children?

 As the article reports, Instagram is facing investigations from several US states. The investigation will focus on whether or not Instagram targets children through their ads and how they use the data of young users to do so.

For example, an ad could target a young girl via her likes and comments to make sure she sees more products that fit with her interests – ultimately making it easier for companies selling those items to find new customers.

This is not allowed under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and could be punishable by law.

At this point, it remains unclear what exactly will happen with Instagram targeting children in the US. It looks like we’ll have to wait for some more time before new regulations come into place or another verdict of how they should behave towards their young users gets made.


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