Instagram is being investigated for a potential leak of children’s personal information by the Irish privacy watchdog, which is the EU’s lead authority on Facebook.
“The DPC has been actively monitoring complaints received from individuals in this area and has identified potential concerns in relation to the processing of children’s personal data on Instagram which require further examination,” it said in a statement.
If the social media company is found to have violated European privacy regulations then it could face a fine of up to 4% of its global turnover, although a fine of that scale has never been issued.
The complaints stem from Instagram requiring business accounts to provide public contact information – and potentially allowing some children on its platform to change their accounts into business ones.
Back in 2019, data scientist David Stier found that millions of personal accounts on Instagram which had been switched to business accounts were leaking phone numbers.
Mr Stier reported to Facebook his discovery that accounts apparently belonging to minors were leaking the children’s phone numbers and their email addresses.
“Speaking as a parent, I want to be assured that the experience Instagram offers to teens is as ‘adult-overseen’ as possible,” he added.
The Irish DPC said its investigation “will also consider whether Facebook meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency requirements in its provision of Instagram to children”.
The complaint also follows Facebook admitting that the coronavirus pandemic meant images of child nudity and sexual exploitation have been spreading on its platforms.
The tech giant said moderation levels dropped when content moderators were sent to work from home in March during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.