“Instagram is full of porn and sex

The social network Instagram has over one billion users worldwide. But it’s not just harmless leisure pictures that are posted there. Pornography, nude pictures and lewd messages are the order of the day – and this also affects underage users! atechbook did some research and spoke to cybercriminologist Dr. Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger.

More than 21 million Germans use Instagram and either share photos there themselves or at least view the content of others. More than 15 percent of users in this country are between 13 and 17 years old and therefore underage. The protection of minors often comes up short, if only because of the large number of users. “Several forms of pornographic media can be found on the platform at once,” confirms cybercriminologist Dr. Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger.

After 5 minutes you can already find porn

If you think only innocuous pictures and video clips are shared on Instagram, you’re wrong. Research by atechbook in the depths of the social media platform unearths diverse non-youth content. Under certain hashtags, there are lots of nude pictures and hardcore porn clips. Once you get on the trail of a hashtag, you can open the door to further content. The corresponding images and videos usually contain up to 29 other hashtags with a clear reference.

Instagram itself is aware of this problem and is trying to stem the tide of porn as best it can. The company has long blocked obvious hashtags like #sex. Anyone who enters it in the hashtag search does not get any results. In addition, the software can also partially recognize and filter out pornographic content.

As atechbook found out, Instagram does not manage to make the masses of pornography disappear despite daily deletions. Consistently, users in all time zones around the world upload material that is always online for a certain amount of time. It only took five minutes to find the first hashtag with sexual content. Video clips of hardcore pornography can already be found here.

Dr. Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger also sees another difficulty due to the worldwide use of Instagram: “What is considered a sexual offense or pornographic medium differs from country to country. For example, in Germany, so-called posing pictures of children are classified as ‘child pornographic media,’ but in other countries it may not be punishable.”

3 Types of pornographic media on Instagram

According to Dr. Rüdiger, in summary, it is mainly three types of pornographic content:

1. Explicit pornographic drawings and comics.

These are drawings that realistically and unmistakably show hardcore pornography. According to Dr. Rüdiger, these are not very hidden and are the easiest to find. This could be because the Instagram algorithm doesn’t recognize the content as pornography and thus can’t filter it out.

2. classic pornographic images and videos.

Pornographic images and videos of real people are also on Instagram. But since the algorithm is now better at filtering them, uploaders are alienating the porn. Filters thus make videos difficult to recognize, but still clearly visible.

3. verbal pornography in text form.

There is also a danger from pictures with texts on them, so-called quotecards. On certain profiles, sexualized texts can be found on them, whether disguised as an invitation to write or even as a supposed confession.

Penis pictures and sex requests the order of the day

Pornographic content on Instagram is a nuisance and not meant for the eyes of adolescents. However, a real danger comes from private messages. Perpetrators of all ages contact girls and even boys via Instagram – with clear intentions. The scam is called cybergrooming and is, according to Dr. Rüdiger, “one of the most relevant risks for children.” The perpetrators write to young girls, for example, steer the conversation to a sexual level and sometimes even force a meeting. This involves sex chats and the exchange of naked pictures. Instagram indirectly makes this approach even easier. While young people were only represented with an alias in chat rooms, they reveal much more information about themselves on the social media platform in the form of pictures and their own description.

Cyber criminologist Dr. Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger sees Instagram primarily as an initiation platform. After the initial contact, the perpetrators then try to get in touch with the children via classic messengers.

Perpetrators are particularly attracted to public photos on Instagram. In addition to messages, they also send unsolicited nude pictures. Instagram initially displays these in a blur, but clicking on the image reveals it. Here, the curiosity of the victims usually prevails – the photo is viewed. Many female YouTubers have already reported virtual assaults in public.

Sexbots as a relatively new phenomenon

When atechbook first researched the topic of sex on Instagram in December 2018, so-called sexbots did not yet play a major role. These are Instagram accounts that prefer to comment under posts from other accounts with a large reach. The comments are usually slightly lewd and supposedly come from women who want to lure users to their own profiles. In recent months, most Instagram users have probably already come across such comments.

Of course, there are no lonely singles looking for a partner behind the profiles. Rather, they are computer bots that automatically generate comments. The profiles are usually empty and only contain a link in the description, which then leads via several steps to an alleged singles’ exchange for adults, for example. Since the links on Instagram lead directly to pornographic content, bots are also part of Instagram’s sex problem.

Instagram does not tolerate pornographic content

A spokesperson for Instagram made the following statement in response to a request from atechbook in 2018: ” We have zero tolerance for content or conduct that jeopardizes the privacy and safety of minors. We have a number of automated and manual systems in place to report and block accounts used for spam and inappropriate content. In addition to the technologies we use on the back end, we have thousands of people on our Community Operations team supporting us 24/7, around the world, and in over 40 languages.”

Although a renewed inquiry has so far remained unanswered, nothing is likely to have changed in Instagram’s attitude.

How exactly do Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat & Co. influence our understanding of beauty? Read about it in the “STYLEBOOK Beauty Impact Report 2021”!

Should I ban my kids from Instagram?

The cybercriminologist does not give a blanket answer here. Dr. Rüdiger appeals to the children’s own media competence, which should then be passed on to them: “Parents should actively use the platforms. Then they will quickly gain an insight into the risks and can also talk about them authentically and transparently with their children. Children’s access to the digital space should always be made dependent on the knowledge conveyed about risks and reaction mechanisms.”

Protect accounts of children and young people as best as possible

While you should have full control over the account for children, it is often no longer appropriate to control the smartphone for teenagers. Still, there are methods to make Instagram safer for youngsters:

1. private profile

Be sure to set the profile of children and teenagers to “private”. This way, only subscribers can see your children’s pictures. Those who want to subscribe must make a request. The pictures of the offspring will then also no longer appear in the hashtag search.

How to set the profile to private:

Step 1

Instagram
Go to your own profile page and tap on the three dashes in the top right corner. This will cause a menu to expand. In the lower right corner, you will get to the settings. Photo: atechbook

Step 2

Instagram
Scroll down to the menu item “Account privacy” in the settings. Photo: atechbook

Step 3

Instagram
Activate the option and the account is already private Photo: atechbook

Note: If you have converted your profile to a business profile, you can no longer make your own page private. To do this, the profile must first be changed back in the settings!

2. don’t reveal too much info in the biography

The bio is a description that is on one’s Instagram page and can be customized. It can be seen above the picture feed and often includes personal information, such as where you live, your age or your name. Such info has no place with kids and teens, as you make it relatively easy for strangers to learn more about the person in question.

3. reject message requests

By the way, if messages from non-followers land in the inbox, they won’t show up in the list immediately, but in the top right corner of the message menu as a “request”. These should always be rejected if they come from unknown people.

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