Sep 6, 2022 - Technology

Ireland hits Instagram with $400 million fine over teen data

Illustrated animation of the Instagram logo's color draining.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ireland's data authority, which enforces EU privacy rules, has fined Meta-owned Instagram $402 million (405 million euros) after an investigation into how the platform handles children's data.

Why it matters: Social media platforms have been under increasing pressure from governments worldwide over how they protect and use data from minors.

Driving the news: Ireland's Data Protection Commission announced its decision on the fine Monday, per the AP.

  • The fine is the second-biggest yet issued under Europe's privacy rules (Amazon was fined $887 million last year).
  • It follows an investigation into how Instagram showed personal details of users from age 13 to 17, with emails and phone numbers, the AP reports.
  • A data scientist had found that users under 18 were switching to business accounts to access advanced features for managing "likes" that the platform had removed from personal accounts. But the business accounts also showed users' phone numbers and emails by default.

Be smart: Ireland takes the lead enforcing EU data rules for those U.S. tech companies that have their European headquarters in Dublin.

What they're saying: Instagram, which plans to appeal the fine, said in a statement it had "engaged fully" with regulators and argued the ruling is "focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago."

  • The company says current settings for teens set profiles as private by default.

Flashback: Meta's WhatsApp was fined 225 million euros last year and Facebook was fined 17 million euros in March, all under the watch of Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon.

Go deeper