Moms Inadvertently Expose Daughters To Predators On Instagram In Quest For Money And Fame, Investigation Reveals

Instagram app on smartphone (grass background)

Mothers are inadvertently exposing their young daughters to male predators on Instagram in a quest to garner money and fame, an investigation published by The New York Times on Thursday found.

The accounts, numbering in the thousands, reveal how social media platforms are altering the definition of childhood and the increasing commodification of young girls, the NYT found. In some cases, mothers managing the accounts actively sell photographs, previously worn outfits and chat sessions with their underage daughters.

 

Top patrons are willing to spend thousands of dollars to foster inappropriate relationships with these children, often resulting in abuse, according to the NYT. Men flirt, torment and extort the daughters and parents into providing increasingly scandalous photos in some cases.

Moreover, men brazenly indulge in fantasies regarding sexually exploiting the children they follow on Instagram in conversations on messaging app Telegram, according to the NYT, which observed multiple chat rooms. The men commend Instagram for its role in allowing the underage photos to proliferate on the platform in these chat rooms.

“I’m so glad for these new moms pimping their daughters out,” a man wrote on Telegram, according to the NYT. “And there’s an infinite supply of it — literally just refresh your Instagram Explore page there’s fresh preteens.”

Despite Instagram banning users under 13 from using the platform, parents establish and manage accounts for their children, according to the NYT. Parents often launch the accounts in an endeavor to help their daughters become models or get involved with clothing companies but they can swiftly spiral into attracting male predators.

“I really don’t want my child exploited on the internet,” an Australian mother told the NYT. “But she’s been doing this so long now,” she said. “Her numbers are so big. What do we do? Just stop it and walk away?”

The considerable number of followers that the children’s accounts attract can prove advantageous for families, according to the NYT. This heightened visibility can generate excitement among companies, leading to various financial benefits.

Male followers make up 35% of the general audience for the accounts in the NYT’s sample, but the proportion often increases substantially as accounts grow in popularity, rising up to over 75% for those with over 100,000 followers, according to the outlet.

Rewards can vary depending on the accounts, according to the NYT.

Certain girls on Instagram only secure deals on clothing, get gifts from Amazon wish lists or get paid through Cash App, according to the NYT. Meanwhile, others manage to rake in thousands of dollars each month by offering exclusive content to subscribers.

“Anyone on Instagram can control who is able to tag, mention or message them, as well as who can comment on their account,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “On top of that, we prevent accounts exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior from using our monetization tools, and we plan to limit such accounts from accessing subscription content.”

Meta does not receive profits from subscriptions and the company has 40,000 individuals working on safety and security and has invested billions into the effort, according to the tech giant.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified during a January hearing on Instagram allegedly assisting pedophiles in accessing inappropriate child sexual content, defending the platform’s policies. Zuckerberg apologized to families whose children were victimized during the hearing.

Instagram did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

Jason Cohen on February 23, 2024


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