Instagram: accessible pornography for minors
By Slater Katz
According to the co-creators of Instagram, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, “Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.” The photo buffs created the social phenomenon to give the inept “Average Joe” the ability to take quality, artsy photos with a mediocre camera phone and share it with the social web instantly. Little did the duo know, this fun and innocent platform is now the social hot spot for sexual encounters and pornography for those of all ages.
The good old days when “latte” was tagged in 135,000 photos are long gone, and replaced by the vulgar reality in which 201,000 photos are tagged “Instasex” and the hashtag “wet” has nearly twice as many images. While citizens of the United States have the right to post whatever their hearts desire on the Internet, those under the legal ages of 18 or 21 are prevented from accessing pornographic content by federal law. Instagram lists those 13 years of age or older permission to use their services. With a lack of regulation of inappropriate content, they are responsible for illegal activity and the corruption of the young people of the twenty-first century.
According to Socialnomics.net’s 2012 study, 81 percent of people ages 12-17 are active social media users. The entirety of the 81 percent is therefore illegally able to access pornographic content from sites like Instagram with great ease due to the lax attitude towards enforcing policies. In an e-mail correspondence between Instagram and the Huffington Post inquiring about the former’s responsibility to enforce policy, an Instagram spokesperson admitted the reigns of responsibility to police, but that these violations are not their number one priority. He says, “We heavily rely on users to flag inappropriate content and we do our best to remove any media that we determine to be inappropriate.” But with only 15 full-time employees, a seemingly desperate advertisement on their “About” page recruiting employees and an abundance of evidence publicly displayed on user profiles, it is apparent Instagram is not taking this enforcement seriously. This freely advertised discrediting fact and the representative’s admission of policy truth only degrades Instagram’s credibility because, according to GuardChild.com, only a fraction of inappropriate Internet content is reported to authorities.
Each generation, it seems kids are becoming more exposed to inappropriate and risqué content and becoming increasingly more sexually aware and active. Having sex in middle school is the norm of this decade, while our parent’s generation would have been floored to hear of such scandal. The vast generational differences are largely due to the public, vulgar content inhabiting all social media sites and the open, unregulated content posted daily by millions. Scholars such as Terri Senft, a professor specializing in global media at New York University’s Department of Liberal Studies, blame Instagram’s transition into the dominant sexual landscape. “Instagram has moved from a niche thing to something people have heard about; and that means it has a critical mass. Whenever you have a critical mass on the Internet, the sex shows up,” Senft says. Senft’s argument holds some value based on the increase from 10 million to 80 million Instagram users in the past year, but if they are growing at such an accelerated speed, hiring more employees to manage the site to regulate inappropriate content and enforce the terms of service seems like a logically imperative business priority.
There is no excuse for Instagram and other social media sites to allow these policy violations to fly by and extend a key part of their job onto indifferent users. Instagram is now an X-rated site, when terms such as “sextagram,” “instaporn” and “handbra” summon up thousands of images of nudity and provocative activities available to tweens. While non-regulated exposure is illegal, the most disturbing part of this sexual epidemic is how it is changing the lives of youth. No longer are innocent seventh graders thinking “giving head” actually involves one’s head. Instead, they are illegally exposed to nude pictures of people doing “69” and having virtual intercourse with strangers, tarnishing their youthful innocence at the expense of selfish, careless executives leading the social media revolution.
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