Instagram pushes sexualized content on 13-year-olds within minutes of logging in

By Around the Web

Owen Klinksy
Daily Caller News Foundation

Instagram recommends sexualized content to young teenagers within minutes of their first log in, according to studies from The Wall Street Journal and Northeastern computer-science professor Laura Edelson.

The studies, which consisted of scrolling through Instagram Reels using new test accounts with listed ages of 13, found that adult sex-content creators appeared in the test accounts’ feeds in as little as three minutes, according to The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, if a test account chose to skip other forms of content and watch sexually suggestive content to completion, its feed would be dominated by sexualized content in under 20 minutes.

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In one case, a new 13-year-old test account that exclusively watched Instagram-recommended videos of women began, in the words of the experimenters, “being served video after video about anal sex” in under thirty minutes.

The studies’ findings contradict claims from Instagram parent Meta Platforms in January that it would begin restricting “sensitive content” – including “content that may be sexually explicit or suggestive” – for users under the age of 16, according to The Wall Street Journal and a January blog post from Meta.

The results also speak to broader issues surrounding social media’s effect on teenage mental health.

The U.S. Surgeon General recently called for tobacco-style warning labels on social media, citing an August 2022 survey from Boston’s Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts which found 31.3% of students surveyed believed social media worsened academic performance, and 46% believed social media worsened body image.

Additionally, the test results touch on concerns regarding teenage pornography consumption – concerns that have led to legislation like Utah’s Senate Bill 287 which required age verification for all websites that post adult content.

Meta spokesman Andy Stone, in a comment to The Wall Street Journal, disputed the validity of the tests.

“This was an artificial experiment that doesn’t match the validity of how teens use Instagram.”

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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