Instagram is undergoing two investigations for allegedly exposing data of 5 million minors. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) is heading the case.
According to a report by the Telegraph, U.S. data scientist David Stier filed a complaint to the DPC last September. According to Stier, Instagram might have exposed the personal data of more than 5 million users below legal age.
“(DPC) has been actively monitoring complaints received from individuals in this area,” Graham Doyle, DPC Deputy Commissioner stated.
The commissioner added that DPC has “identified potential concerns in relation to the processing of children’s personal data on Instagram which require further examination.”
According to Stier, the app has a lot of resources but it lacks safety awareness and care for its users. The scientist added that the app has “woefully low levels of empathy.”
Facebook joins the investigation
There are two cases actively pursued by DPC today. It involves Instagram and Facebook—the parent company.
DPC stated that the first case investigates how Facebook works in handling Instagram data, particularly for minors.
According to DPC, it will determine whether the social media giant works on user data legally. It will also review if the company has enough child protection policies on the photo-sharing app.
Moreover, the second case focuses on how Instagram policies work on its profile and account settings. The DPC checks if the settings are right for underaged users.
“We’re in close contact with the IDPC and we’re cooperating with their inquiries,” stated Instagram.
Exposing data by changing accounts
Back in 2019, Stier reported that underaged data can be exposed easily. The Instagram business account feature needs to have a phone number and email address input in order to get activated.
Having a business account gives users access to Insights, Promoted posts, Scheduled posts, and many more. It is easy to see why users want to switch to a business account.
However, switching to it has a huge caveat—privacy.
Stier stated in his 2019 article that, “there are no restrictions on who can change their personal profile to a business account.”
“Many kids have figured out they can ‘claim’ to have a business so that they can add the contact buttons on their own profile page,” Stier added.
Instagram has then changed the settings and made contact info display optional. But the DPC will push through with the investigation.