Meta faces $402 million EU fine over Instagram’s privacy settings for children

Meta has been fined €405 million ($402 million) by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission for manipulating children’s privacy settings on Instagram, in breach of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As Politically This is reportedly the second-biggest fine to come out of Europe’s GDPR laws, and the third-biggest (and highest) fine imposed on Meta by the regulator.

A spokesman for the DPC confirmed the fine and said more details about the decision would be available next week. The penalty stems from the photo sharing app’s privacy settings for accounts held by children. The DPC had investigated Instagram for children’s use of business accounts, which made personal information such as email addresses and phone numbers publicly visible. The investigation also concerned Instagram’s policy of making all new accounts, including teenagers, publicly visible.

“This investigation focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help protect teens and keep their information private,” said a meta spokesperson Politically in an opinion. “People under the age of 18 will automatically have their accounts private when they join Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post and adults can’t message teens who don’t follow them. We have engaged fully with the DPC throughout your request and we are carefully reviewing your final decision.”

The fine, which Meta could still appeal, comes as Instagram has come under intense scrutiny over how it handles child safety issues. The company halted work on an Instagram Kids app last year after a whistleblower claimed that Meta ignored its own research suggesting the app could be having a negative impact on some teens’ mental health. Since then, the app has added other security features, including changing the default settings for teenage accounts to private.

Updated with additional details from the DPC.

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