Instagram Takes Steps to Discourage Kids from Sexting on Social Media

Social media giant Meta — owner of Instagram and Facebook — is taking steps to discourage kids from sending and receiving nude photos on Instagram.

The Wall Street Journal reports,

These images, real or fake, can cause emotional anguish, schoolwide humiliation and even financial harm. In recent months, “sextortion” scams have ensnared thousands of teenage boys across the U.S. Sending sexual images of minors is also a crime.

Instagram users who receive nude images via direct messages will see a pop-up explaining how to block the sender or report the chat, and a note encouraging the recipient not to feel pressure to respond. People who attempt to send a nude via direct messages will be advised to be cautious and receive a reminder that they can unsend a pic. . . .

Meta doesn’t have plans to roll out the warnings to its other apps, such as WhatsApp and [Facebook] Messenger.

Teen sexting is a serious problem. As our friends at Daily Citizen note,

2019 study of 54 million text messages and 1.5 million hours of phone usage by the parenting software Jiminy found one in three teens will ask for nude photos.

An astounding 24% of children studied had either sent or received a nude photo by the tender age of 13.

Sending such personal photos — both real and fake — exposes children to physical and emotional danger. Compromising photos can be shared and leaked among peers, causing humiliation, shame, embarrassment, blackmail, and even suicide.

Stories like this remind us why last year Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin’s office filed a lawsuit against Meta in Polk County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges Facebook permits content that sexualizes children and that the platform itself is designed and structured “to exploit multiple neuropsychological traits in youth.”

The lawsuit says that, “youth mental health problems have advanced in lockstep with the growth of social media platforms that have been deliberately designed to attract and addict youth by amplifying harmful material, dosing users with dopamine hits, and thereby driving youth engagement and advertising revenue.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Meta violated Arkansas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act by designing and marketing “dangerous social media platforms that have injured the health, comfort, and repose of the State’s community” and fueled the current youth mental health crisis.

The A.G.’s complaint against Meta concludes by asking the court to stop Meta’s actions and award the state up to $10,000 per violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act in accordance with state law.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

What Would It Look Like to Ban TikTok in America?

Congress is considering legislation that would ban TikTok or force its Chinese parent-company to sell the social media platform.

With an estimated one billion users worldwide and 150 million in the U.S., TikTok is considered by some to be the most popular social media platform in the world — especially among teens and young adults.

The company has struggled to protect private user data from entities in China, and the platform has faced criticism for letting its algorithm serve users what some call a steady “diet of darkness” online.

As U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman wrote last month,

Although TikTok executives claim that it does not share any data collected by the app, there are several Chinese laws in place that provide CCP officials access to all user data collected by Chinese-owned tech companies, like TikTok. This means the CCP has access to sensitive data, like the location of every TikTok user worldwide, including the over 210 million Americans who have downloaded the app.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a story explaining what it would look like if TikTok were banned in the U.S. You can watch that story below.

TikTok and Teens: Guest Column

Congress is considering banning the Chinese government-controlled social media platform TikTok. For some, this ban is about national security. For others, it’s about the safety and sanity of our children.  

Today, nearly half of all teens use social media “almost constantly.” Sixty-three percent of them use TikTok, making it the second most used social media platform behind YouTube. 

Some claim that banning TikTok could lead to catastrophic consequences for teens’ mental health. For many teens, according to one Twitter user, “TikTok is their identity.” In other words, they’re addicted, so losing it could lead to mental distress. 

Such an abrupt shift may certainly cause distress, but social media has long fueled anxiety and depression. As Jean Twenge has noted, teens who spend more time behind screens are at a higher risk for depression.  

Thankfully, teens are more than their online personas, likes, follows, or friends. They are embodied persons whose happiness and wholeness depend on living in the real world. Any effort to help them do that is a step in the right direction. 

Copyright 2024 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from with permission.