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Instagram, the photo-sharing app that promises a “fast, beautiful” way to exchange images, has enjoyed an enviable reputation as the Eden of social networking sites.
The explicit images run afoul of Instagram’s terms of service, which prohibit “nude, partially nude, or sexually suggestive photos.” But while Instagram can ban certain activity, it can’t always police it.
With just 15 full-time employees and over five million photos uploaded every day, Instagram depends on its users to report activity that violates the service’s policies.
“We rely heavily on users to flag inappropriate content and we do our best to remove any media that we determine to be inappropriate,” an Instagram spokesperson said in an e-mail.
“In terms of why we’re seeing these [graphic images], it has a lot to do with sites like Instagram not being specific enough in their terms of service,” said Tibbals.
“They are more than allowed to decide what they do or do not want on their site, but I think it’d be easier to just define the terms of service in a clear way and people will use it in a way Instagram is more comfortable with, and we’d be done with it.” A failure to crack down on the “instasex” community risks tainting Instagram’s rosy reputation and alienating users who came for tulips and landscapes, not Kik Sex and genitalia.
Parents, in particular, could have cause for concern: Users as young as 13 years old can create Instagram accounts, and an Instagram username is all that is necessary to tap into the app’s “sextagram” underbelly.