Business Insider has conducted an investigation on IGTV, the new TV service of social network Instagram. It found disturbing videos that seemed to depict child exploitation.
Two videos found by Business Insider had a police blotter filed by the British charity organization National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
Five days later, Instagram pulled out the videos after Business Insider reported the incident through the app’s reporting channel.
Then, Instagram sent an apology to the unintended viewers and said it wanted to make IGTV safe for children.
Facebook is still under scrutiny for publishing unsuitable content that infringe its own policies. Facebook and Instagram have the same monitoring team for its communities. Facebook even hired 7,500 moderators and uses AI to remove posts that break its rules.
IGTV allows Instagram account owners to set up their own channels and upload videos with up to an hour of playing time. They can swipe through channels like flicking channels on a traditional TV.
For recommendations, IGTV has a For You tab with videos that play immediately, a Popular section, and a Following menu with suggested videos from people you follow.
IGTV will auto-play the next video unless a user swipes left to scroll through the recommended videos.
Within days of monitoring IGTV, Business Insider found a video in their For You section showing a girl between 11-12 years old in a bathroom. The girl was removing her top off and the video suddenly ended.
The video was also under the Popular tab on IGTV. It was also recommended under the For You section of a child account set up as a 13-year-old by Business Insider for this investigation. So no prior history in the platform.
The “Hot Girl Follow Me” video uploader posted another video of a juvenile showing her belly while pouting. This video was also under the For You section of Business Insider’s child account.
A different Instagram user re-uploaded the two videos under a different title. The video named “Hot Girl Follow Me” was titled “Follow me guys” but was also circulating on the IGTV suggested posts.
Comments under the post show other IGTV users also saw it. Some saw it as sexually suggestive.
The NSPCC reviewed the videos and told the police. They think the footage had erotic posing that violates UK law for indecent images.
Despite Business Insider reporting the footage to Instagram’s reporting feature, the videos remained online for five more days.
Instagram only removed the content after Business Insider contacted the company’s press office. Before removal, the two videos, along with their edited versions, had amassed more than a million views.
Surprisingly, Instagram left the uploaders’ accounts active, even though Business Insider pointed out to the company its “zero-tolerance policy” on child abuse. Instagram said the policy only applied to the content, not the accounts.
Business Insider says the two accounts remain active to this day. They continue to post sexually suggestive content, but not as bold as the two previous videos.