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

Meta has been fined 405 million ($402 million) by the Irish Data Protection Commission because of its handling of childrens privacy settings on Instagram, which violated Europes General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As Politico reports, its the second-largest fine ahead out of Europes GDPR laws, and the 3rd (and largest) fine levied against Meta by the regulator.

A spokesperson for the DPC confirmed the fine, and said additional information regarding the decision will be available in a few days. The fine is due to the photo sharing apps privacy settings on accounts run by children. The DPC have been investigating Instagram over childrens usage of business accounts, which made personal data like email addresses and telephone numbers publicly visible. The investigation also covered Instagrams policy of defaulting new accounts, including teens, to be publicly viewable.

This inquiry centered on old settings that people updated over this past year, and weve since released many new features to keep teens safe and their information private,” a Meta spokesperson told Politico in a statement. “Anyone under 18 automatically has their account set to private if they join Instagram, so only people they know can easily see what they post, and adults cant message teens who dont follow them. We engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, and were carefully reviewing their ultimate decision.

The fine, which Meta could still appeal, comes as Instagram has faced intense scrutiny over its handling of child safety issues. The business halted work on an Instagram Kids app this past year carrying out a whistleblowers claims that meta ignored its research indicating the app might have a negative effect on some teens mental health. Since that time, the app has added more safety features, including changing default settings on teen accounts to private.

Updated with additional details from the DPC.

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