Instagram fined €405 million for publishing online personal data attributed to minors

Meta has been fined €405 million by the Irish data protection authorities after a thorough investigation revealed that Instagram allowed business accounts to be assigned to underage users of the social media platform. Subsequently, personal data used by underage users, such as email addresses and phone numbers, was published on the internet from these registered accounts.

A new unwanted record for Instagram, the huge fine is already being challenged by Meta, it remains to be seen what the final outcome will be.

According to the investigation launched in 2020, Instagram’s administrator overlooked a vulnerability in the platform that allowed minors between the ages of 13 and 17 to register business accounts, intended for adult users who wanted to promote/sell various products/services through the social media platform.

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A possible source of inconvenience could be the inefficient way of validating the real age of users, the Meta administrator leaving this “loophole” in order to increase as much as possible the number of registered users on the platform.

“We adopted our final decision last Friday and it contains a fine of €405 million,” said a spokesman for Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), the main regulator of Instagram’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc. Full details of the decision will be published next week, he added.

From the “defendants” camp, Meta’s spokesman says Instagram updated its settings more than a year ago and has since introduced new features designed to protect teens and their private information. The Meta spokesperson also claims that Instagram disagrees with the way the fine was calculated and is carefully reviewing the decision.

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WhatsApp was also fined a record €225 million last year for failing to comply with EU data protection laws.

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