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Children should be prevented from setting up a business account on Facebook and Instagram – Higgins

Facebook and Instagram need to do more to prevent children’s personal information appearing online

14th November 2020 - Emer Higgins, TD

Children should be prevented from setting up business accounts on Instagram or Facebook which lets them share their personal information, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Emer Higgins, Fine Gael’s Spokesperson on Social Media and FinTech, who represents Dublin Mid West, said it’s essential that more screening is done at the point of sign-up.

Deputy Higgins said, “Social Media companies make it too easy for children to create unverified business accounts. This simply should not happen considering children are the most vulnerable internet users and need protection.

“Teenagers often prefer to open business accounts to increase their viewers, engagement and reach. When setting up a business account, it is not clear what data will be made available to the outside world and frankly, children aren’t informed about this and often don’t care that their personal information may be shared inappropriately. However, I don’t think banning under 16s from social media is the answer, rather we must censor the content available to them.

“The answer to this? Don’t show this option to children, make it more difficult to create a business profile, verify legitimate business accounts and create a slightly different Instagram platform with increased protections for children, similar to Youtube for kids.

“There needs to be a two-pronged approach to this; education and more verification. But we need to ensure that education is coming from reliable and relatable sources to make a real impact upon children. We need to take a collaborative approach between Government, social media companies and NGOs like Webwise to outline the dangers in providing personal details online.

“93% of children between 8 and 12 own a smart device, according to a recent Cybersafe Ireland survey. So we really need to ensure that social media companies have stricter safeguarding procedures in place”, said Deputy Higgins.

“I think it’s correct for the Data Protection Commissioner to be looking into this, as has been reported. The safety of our children online has to be taken seriously and there’s a reason that European GDPR rules are rightfully stricter when dealing with children’s data. Breaches of GDPR can incur fines of up to 4% of a company’s annual turnover.

“It’s not good enough for Facebook to say ‘we’ve always been clear that when people choose to set up a business account on Instagram, their contact information would be publicly shared’. We need to know what Facebook are going to do to ensure that vulnerable children are not sharing their personal information on their platforms,” concluded Deputy Higgins.




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