Use of Instagram Business accounts by minors on the rise

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    Teens who mark their profile as “business” on Instagram expose their personal phone number and email addresses. The business profile allows users to check metrics, such as how many people viewed the profile or a post, which help teens reach digital popularity. However, they expose their personal information to the world. “A lot of kids my age are doing it,” claims 15-year-old former business profile user Brianna Perez. Social media platforms have over a million users less than 18-years-old.

    When Instagram launched their business profiles in 2016, they were meant as a way to let businesses reach potential customers. However, Instagram doesn’t vet these accounts for accurate portrayals of business. In response to the growing number of business accounts, Instagram has began undertaking certain actions to prevent under-aged users exposing their personal information. If Instagram suspects underage users on an account (such as if the account does not list the name of its affiliated corporation) then their account will be suspended. This is why Instagram urges people to report accounts that don’t fulfill this criteria.

    “There are lots of kids using Instagram, kids under 13, there is no airtight age verification,” said Christine Elgersma, and editor at Common Sense. On Instagram you can switch to a “creator” account which has the same concept of a business account without giving away and personal details. Even outside of the creator account, some teens- mostly girls- are getting unwanted direct messages from older men/women.

    The company is exploring further privacy protections for children under 18, but they aren’t openly sharing their methods. The Perez family continues to hope that Instagram supports kid-friendly platforming in the near future. “Maybe Instagram should take it into their hands and just not let [kids] put all their information on social media,” claims Brianna Perez.