girl-taking-picture-with-phoneI know grade school students with Facebook accounts and tweens on Twitter. There are many lovely, useful things about social media — but because it’s still a new phenomenon in the grand scheme, there are still serious kinks. Well, “kink” is perhaps too light a word to use in reference to this problem with Instagram.

Apparently, Instagram settings are public by default, so a kid opening a new account will immediately be publishing his photos for the world to see. Also, Instagram settings revert to public when you perform routine smart phone updates, so it’s an ongoing task to keep images private. On top of this, kids often activate geolocation without realizing they’re doing it. What’s geolocation? Well, this lovely anecdote from the Change.org petition page explains it well:

The images were “geotagged” – associating each photograph with the exact location where it was taken. As a stranger to this site, I found my daughter’s picture, her full name, school name, grade level, and then, with one click on the map icon, I was able to view the exact location of her school, our home, and her primary after school location. All without our knowledge or permission. This absolutely should not be happening – especially not for minors.

Are you kidding me? So any random psycho can walk into the library, open Instagram, pick out a target and have access to all of the information necessary to find and kidnap said child? In what world is this okay? When I was growing up, we weren’t even allowed to wear shirts or hats with our names on them because kidnappers might beckon us by calling our names out. This so totally goes beyond that.

Here’s what I want to know, too. What’s an instance in which geotagging could be a good thing? I’m serious, maybe I’m just completely out of the loop or having a really hard time thinking critically this morning, but geotagging seems like it has way more potential to do harm than good. Maybe law enforcement uses geotagging to track down missing people?
Like, the same children that went missing because all of their information was public on Instagram?

Gah.

The Change.org petition, created by Kristin Geiser, Mary Hofstedt and Robin Connell, has over 1,000 signatures but still needs more. I can’t believe the carelessness of Instagram creators regarding children’s privacy. Any other product readily available to children, whether it’s vitamins, a carseat or a toy must meet certain health and safety regulations. Why isn’t it the same for this?

(photo: Elliot Westacott/Shutterstock)