Among the millions of images uploaded to Instagram daily - there’s a huge variety of content including food, landscapes, products, people, inspirational quotes, memes - the list goes on. Instagram is safe for kids, right? Wrong.
Users are flooding Instagram with pornography. Amongst all the images of cute puppies, donuts, and holiday snaps, people can find endless pornographic images and links to find even more pornography on other platforms.
While the Instagram moderators are skilled at quickly removing flagged inappropriate content from across their social media platforms, images are simply replaced as soon as they are removed. There are detailed guides found online that explain how easy it is to find pornography on Instagram, including what hashtags to search for. After testing the theory, we found that it took less than 30 seconds to find thousands of pornographic images and videos, with links to pornographic websites and various users to search for on other social media platforms who will provide more porn. All a user needs to do is search for the various suggested hashtags within the ‘Explore’ section and a whole heap of pornographic images will appear.
Much of the porn found on Instagram is generated by ‘porn bots’ which are essentially fake accounts used to drive people away from Instagram and onto pornographic websites. The people who create these ‘porn bot’ accounts are using Instagram as an advertising platform, targeting the platform’s massive audience to increase traffic to their websites. The accounts are created much faster than moderators can keep up with, but there is a limit to what content they can publish, given the images are quickly deleted and videos cannot be any longer than 60 seconds.
What can parents do?
Cyber Expert David Kobler, from Protect Our Kids, recommends open communication: ‘Many parents want to protect their kids whilst online from the invasive messages that pornography offers. While Instagram can be an enjoyable platform for young people to socialise on, parents need to be aware of the potential threats that can be accessed so easily. Conversation is critical for every young person who is engaging on any social media platform. Equipping your child with the tools needed to navigate the pressures that can be found in the online space, including Instagram, is critical as we endeavour to protect our kids,’ he says. ‘Making your children feel comfortable talking to you about the topics of sex and pornography is vital.’
3 tips for parents from Protect Our Kids
1. Communicate with your kids, even when the topic seems uncomfortable.
2. Educate them around the topics of pornography and sex.
3. Install parental controls on their devices.
Fortunately, Instagram pornography has very limited reach when devices are protected by parental control software. Parental control systems like Family Zone can block the pornographic websites linked to on Instagram posts. Parents can also choose to block Instagram access altogether for younger kids.