We’ve written about some of the dangers associated with Instagram before, but today as we sign the petition to make default settings private and geo-tagging disabled for young users ages 13-17, we wanted to take the opportunity to make our stance on this app and its features very clear.
First of all, we are not and never were anti-Instagram. In fact, there are very few websites, online games, or mobile apps that we are against. As we’ve mentioned time and time again in various posts, we think technology is an awesome thing for kids and teens, and we know that parents are savvy enough to choose which digital media to allow their kids access to.
At the same time, however, we believe that software developers who market to teens have a responsibility to parents to either make their offerings safe and age appropriate, or at the very least, be transparent about the features that may compromise the privacy or safety of young users. Unfortunately, it appears that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has failed to do that.
You see, when kids take pictures of themselves and share them with their followers on Instagram, the pictures, by default, become public and any stranger with a Smartphone can access them. By making this setting a default one, even for its youngest users, Instagram is (hopefully unintentionally) putting these kids at risk. What’s worse, though, is that many of these pictures are also “geo-tagged,” meaning that they show exactly where the picture was taken. The idea that anyone can quickly pull up an image of a child and have immediate access to his or her exact location is a parent’s worst nightmare and one that Instagram is, unfortunately, bringing to life.
If you agree that Instagram should address this issue immediately, sign the petition at Change.org, and let us know that you did so in the comments section. Thanks for helping make tech tools safer for kids!