INSTAGRAM FOR UNDER 13s
Instagram’s proposal to introduce a version of its social media app for children under 13 years has been challenged by an international group of public health professionals and children’s charities under the auspices of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC). Facebook, which owns Instagram already introduced an ad-free version of Facebook Messenger for 6-12 year olds in 2017, a development that was also objected to by CCFC.
Instagram’s current policy bans under 13’s from using the app although children are able to evade the restriction by lying about their age. CCFC’s letter to Mark Zuckerberg argues that Instagram is already harmful to adolescents, due in part to its “relentless focus on appearance” and urges him to cancel plans for a version for even younger children, who are even less developmentally prepared to manage online risks. It notes a particular concern about the susceptibility of young children to suggestions of which content to view, and accuses the platform of manipulative and exploitative practices. It also suggests that current underage users are unlikely to revert to a more “childish” version and that the proposed new platform would therefore attract even younger users than at present.
The letter coincides with Instagram’s apology for an error in its algorithm which resulted in damaging weight loss content being delivered to users with eating disorders. The incidents were explained by Instagram as a mistake, (now corrected), resulting from its new search feature which automatically suggests topics that a user might be interested in.
COUNTY LINES RECRUITMENT ON SNAPCHAT
The speed with which young, vulnerable children can be recruited by criminal gangs to take part in the transportation and sale of drugs around the country, known as County Lines, has been revealed by the BBC. According to the report, a teenager who replied to a message on the Snapchat app, offering work paid in cash and accommodation, was picked up by a gang within 80 minutes of his reply.
County Lines gangs are involved with trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and gun and knife crime. They exploit young people through drug debts, grooming and coercion and use them to distance themselves from the drug dealing, leaving the youngsters to take the risks of being caught.
The pandemic has made it harder for safeguarding organisations to identify vulnerable children and criminals have shown themselves to be quick to adapt to lockdown challenges, even dressing children as Deliveroo cyclists in order to disguise their drug deliveries.
FAKE JOB OFFERS ON LINKEDIN
Users of LinkedIn are warned by the National Centre for Cyber Security to be aware of fake advertisements on the platform which use the current role displayed in individual profiles to make job offers appear more relevant and enticing. The risk has been identified by Cyber security firm, Esentire, which discovered that opening the job offer triggers the installation of malware which then allows plugins to be downloaded to give access to the victim’s computer. The techniques used are viewed as “formidable” due to the personalised job titles, the ability to evade anti-virus software and the large numbers of people looking for new jobs as a result of the pandemic.
FACEBOOK DATA BREACH
If you are concerned that you may have had your data breached in the historic Facebook leak which apparently affected 11 million UK users, you can now check using the Have I Been Pwned online tool. This has recently been extended to allow individuals to check both their email account and telephone number. Visit https://haveibeenpwned.com/
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