As Instagram continues to expand its initiative of concealment public like counts so as to cut back competition on the platform – which, studies have shown, can be notably harmful for younger users – new research suggests that a growing number of young users are currently changing their personal profiles into business accounts so as to access more in-depth audience information on their post performance.
That’s particularly regarding, given that in order to list yourself as a ‘business’ on the platform, you need to provide further contact information, like a telephone number or email address, which is then displayed in your publicly accessible bio.
According to researcher David Stier, around 2 million 12-15 year-old Instagram users presently have their phone and/or email info in public listed on the platform, a major privacy issue.
To come to the present conclusion, Stier analyzed over 200,000 Instagram user profiles in multiple countries. Stier says that he has tested many sample groups using a similar methodology, even beyond this initial 200k set, and he has found a similar results every time, resulting in his conclusion that millions of underage users are unwittingly exposing their contact information.
“Over 60 million children can simply change their profile to a “business account” for which Instagram needs the public display of their email address and/or telephone number in app.”
Of course, technically, children under the age of 13 can’t sign-up for an Instagram account; however that stipulation is easily subverted. And with Instagram lessening its public concentrate on Likes, maybe, through the advanced metrics available through business profile, young users are trying to maintain their Instagram ‘cred’ by sharing these more in-depth figures.
Stier says that he has reported the problem to Instagram; however the corporate has yet to act. Stier notes that Instagram could avoid this by masking email addresses and hiding telephone number listings – however that may also have impacts for actual businesses. Given this, the answer isn’t straight off clear – Instagram might look to enhance its detection and removal methods for the same. However the matter might also be set to increase, as Instagram broadens its program of hiding public like counts.
Of course, the 2 initiatives don’t seem to be definitively connected. Stier notes that he initially reported his findings to Instagram back in February, long before the like test was enforced. However as Instagram looks to change its reporting options, it makes sense that users would look to alternatives to take care of their insights. Even under the test, users can still access their personal insights, so they know what their total like counts are. However by putting focus on the metrics, perhaps more users are considering their options.
If there’s any connection, that’s a considerably negative consequence of Instagram’s test. And either way, if minors are unwittingly sharing their contact details, Instagram has to act – and shortly.