Here’s How Long It Takes for Instagram to Start Grooming Children Who Join

Well, it shouldn’t shock anyone to learn that Instagram, the popular social media platform owned by Meta, is grooming children.

Studies from The Wall Street Journal and Northeastern University computer science professor Laura Edelson found that the platform recommends sexualized content to young teens soon after they start using a new account.

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Test accounts were created for the study, with the age set at 13, and it was discovered that adult content was being shown within three minutes of scrolling through Instagram Reels. 

The tests, run over seven months ending in June, show that the social-media service has continued pushing adult-oriented content to minors after parent Meta Platforms said in January that it was giving teens a more age-appropriate experience by restricting what it calls sensitive content including sexually suggestive material.

Separate testing by the Journal and Laura Edelson, a computer-science professor at Northeastern University, used similar methodology, involving setting up new accounts with ages listed as 13. The accounts then watched Instagram’s curated video stream, known as Reels.

Instagram served a mix of videos that, from the start, included moderately racy content such as women dancing seductively or posing in positions that emphasized their breasts. When the accounts skipped past other clips but watched those racy videos to completion, Reels recommended edgier content. 

Within three minutes of scrolling through Reels, adult sex content creators started appearing in the feeds of the test accounts. After less than 20 minutes of viewing, the test accounts’ feeds were flooded with promotions from these creators, some even offering to send nude photos to users who interacted with their posts.

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Curiously, Snapchat and TikTok were also tested, but didn’t produce the same results.

“All three platforms also say that there are differences in what content will be recommended to teens,” Edelson explained. “But even the adult experience on TikTok appears to have much less explicit content than the teen experience on Reels.”

Meta disputes the findings of the studies.

“This was an artificial experiment that doesn’t match the reality of how teens use Instagram,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone told the Wall Street Journal.

Calling out groomers has been a challenging effort for us. As you may know, Big Tech dislikes the term “groomer. “Why? Because they think it’s homophobic, transphobic, or whatever-phobic. So this article will likely be flagged by Big Tech, then censored and demonetized. Reporting on these stories threatens our survival, which is why we have our VIP program. Without the support of our dedicated readers, we wouldn’t be able to continue, and the truth about groomers and the victimization of children would remain hidden.

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