Skip to main content

Instagram whacked with massive fine over child privacy

Instagram has been fined 405 million euros (about $403 million) for violating the European Union’s privacy-focused General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The penalty was handed down by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) over Instagram’s handling of children’s privacy settings on the app.

The size of the fine, which is expected to be officially announced in the coming days, was leaked to news site Politico and confirmed later to TechCrunch.

The DPC’s investigation looked at Instagram’s processing of children’s data, which in some cases made information such as email addresses and phone numbers visible. It also looked into how some children’s accounts were set to public by default, instead of private.

Responding to news of the fine, a spokesperson for Meta told Politico: “This inquiry focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help keep teens safe and their information private.”

The spokesperson added that anyone under the age of 18 “automatically has their account set to private when they join Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post, and adults can’t message teens who don’t follow them. We engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, and we’re carefully reviewing their final decision.” We should know next week if Meta plans to appeal the fine.

Instagram has long faced criticism over the way it handles matters of privacy for its younger users, but even controlling precisely who uses the app is a big challenge. To set up an account, you have to be at least 13 years old, but it took Instagram until 2019 — nine years after it launched — to start asking users to confirm their age when setting up an account. And even then, children can simply lie about their birth date to continue the setup process.

In recent years, as Meta’s spokesperson mentioned, Instagram has made more effort to introduce measures to protect children’s privacy, as well as other features aimed at making the app safer for younger users.

Politico notes in its report that the fine is the second-biggest financial penalty to be handed down since the privacy-focused GDPR came into force in 2018 after Amazon was fined 746 million euros (about $742 million) in 2021.

It’s also the third fine that the Irish regulator has handed to a company owned by Meta, with the others involving a 225 million euros ($223M) penalty for WhatsApp and a 17 million euros ($16.9M) penalty for Facebook. The Irish DPC is also continuing to work on six other investigations into Meta-owned companies, so more fines could be coming down the track for the U.S. giant.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Instagram and Facebook down? You’re not alone
Turned on smartphone with Instagram app icon on its screen.

Thursday morning. The work week is almost over, the weekend is just around the corner ... and that also apparently means that you can't use Instagram or Facebook. At the time of publication on Thursday, October 27, both Instagram and Facebook appear to be down.

Looking at Down Detector, reports for the outage spiked around 9:40 a.m. with 2,000+ reports. For Facebook, 65% of users are having issues with the website, another 29% are having problems with the app, and 6% are reporting issues with their feed/timeline.

Read more
Get ready: there could be more ads in Instagram’s future
Instagram app on the Google Play Store on an Android smartphone.

It's possible that Instagram users will see more ads in their favorite photo- and video-sharing app going forward as parent company Meta is apparently experimenting with new kinds of ads.

MarketWatch reported on Tuesday that Meta announced that Instagram would see "three new advertising types." These new ad types are Explore ads, profile feed ads, and the third type was described as a "multi-advertiser ad."

Read more
The OG App, an ad-free Instagram client, is no longer on the App Store
the og app instagram alternative ad free ios

If you've been having trouble logging in to The OG App, deleting it, and trying to redownload it from the App Store — only to see it's nowhere to be found — you're not alone. The ad-free alternative to Instagram has been pulled from the App Store.

The OG App was created to bring users an old version of Instagram that didn't have in-app ads, recommendations, or Reels. But on Wednesday, Un1feed, the startup behind the app, tweeted that it was removed from the App Store despite its growing popularity. It pointed out that it was downloaded 10,000 times, reached number 50 in the App Store rankings, and received an average rating of 4.1 stars.

Read more