The Data Protection Commission of Ireland said that it has fined Instagram owner Meta Platforms Inc. The fine was 405 million euros, or $402 million, which is the second-highest fine in the European Union. The reason was the alleged mishandling of children’s data. After a lengthy investigation, which looked at minors managing business accounts on the service, potentially revealing more of their contact information than if they were managing a personal account.
Meta said that the ruling was about old settings that it had updated more than a year ago and that it planned to appeal the penalty calculation. The investigation, which began nearly two years ago, focused on two potential GDPR violations by the corporation. First, Instagram began allowing users between the ages of 13 and 17 to create business accounts by making their contact information public. Users occasionally switch to corporate accounts because doing so gives them access to enhanced interaction analytics. In addition, some young users’ Instagram profiles allegedly became public by default.
According to Meta, the company changed the default public accessibility setting more than a year ago. They also said that anyone under the age of 18 automatically has their account locked when they join Instagram. So only people they know can see what they post, and adults can’t send messages to teens who aren’t subscribed to them. They also said the company disagrees with how the punishment was calculated and wants to fight it.
The decision, which focuses on children, touches on a sensitive area for social media companies. It is their treatment of minors on their services. Instagram faced criticism and investigations after posting about the harm to teenage girls with body image issues.