Meridian Star

New Today

April 9, 2013

Instagram beauty contests worry parents, child privacy advocates

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

It's difficult to track when the pageants began and who initially set them up. A keyword search of #beautycontest turned up 8,757 posts, while #rateme had 27,593 photo posts. Experts say those two terms represent only a fraction of the activity. Contests are also appearing on other social media sites, including Tumblr and Snapchat — mobile apps that have grown in popularity among youth.

Facebook, which bought Instagram last year, declined to comment. The company has a policy of not allowing anyone under the age of 13 to create an account or share photos on Instagram. But Facebook has been criticized for allowing pre-teens to get around the rule — two years ago, Consumer Reports estimated their presence on Facebook was 7.5 million. (Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors.)

Although users can keep their Instagram accounts private or use pseudonyms, they can expose themselves to the public once they share their photos with others.

The girls in the beauty contests often did not take care to keep their identities and locations private. Some dressed in shirts embroidered with their schools' names, others provided a link to their Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr accounts containing information about who they are and where they live.

In December, federal officials strengthened privacy rules for children. But analysts say regulators are not keeping abreast of new technological trends that present fresh questions about the safety of children on the Internet.

Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook last year for $1 billion, at first was seen as an easy way for amateur photographers to turn smartphone pictures into a kind of art. But as mobile gadgets have exploded in popularity among pre-teens and teens, youth have used it as their own social network, child online privacy and safety advocates say.

"It's so easy and fun to use, and kids are able to post all the time because they are carrying a smartphone in their pockets all day," said Stephen Balkam, president of the Family Online Safety Institute. A recent report by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found four out of 10 teens own smartphones and girls tend to be more active users of the Internet through mobile devices than boys.

Text Only
New Today
Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

Do you think the city of Meridian should aggressively enforce the city's code enforcement laws on litter, abandoned homes and overgrown lots by issuing tickets and stiff fines?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide