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Instagram's new IGTV video service suggested content that showed potential child abuse, according to a report by Business Insider.
In one video, called "Hot Girl Follow Me," a girl aged around 11 or 12 is shown in a bathroom, about to take her top off. It appeared on Instagram's "Popular" tab, one of the ways the app recommends content.
In another video, an underage girl was shown exposing her stomach and pouting, Business Insider reported. Two Instagram users posted these and other videos, which were seen 1 million times in the five days the publication was monitoring the accounts. IGTV was launched in June, letting people post and watch video clips up to an hour long, in a move that looked like a challenge to YouTube.
Business Insider monitored several of its own journalists' Instagram accounts, as well as creating a new account with a user age of 13, the minimum required to join the app. The "Hot Girl Follow Me" video appeared on all accounts and was reported via the Instagram app. But it wasn't until the publication contacted the company's press office that the videos were taken down.
Instagram has apologized to anyone who saw the videos and they have been removed.
Abusive content has been a major issue for social media platforms, which use both human moderators and computer programs to review and remove posts. Facebook and Instagram are set to double the number of people in their safety and security teams to 20,000 by the end of the year and that includes 7,500 who review content. The company also filters out offensive comments and adds screens to sensitive content. Google has also added more people to remove violent or extremist content on YouTube.
But social media may be set for regulation, after U.K. communications rule-maker Ofcom this week said it would organize a conference for regulators around the world in the first half of next year, given that other media such as TV shows are governed by rules and viewers may not distinguish between the online and offline worlds. Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White said that "choose your screen and take your chances" is not a helpful message to viewers, considering the lack of rules governing social media.
An Instagram spokesperson told CNBC in an emailed statement: "We care deeply about keeping all of Instagram — including IGTV — a safe place for young people to get closer to the people and interests they care about. We have community guidelines in place to protect everyone using Instagram and have zero tolerance for anyone sharing explicit images or images of child abuse."
"All the content reported to us by Business Insider has been removed from IGTV. We take measures to proactively monitor potential violations of our community guidelines and just like on the rest of Instagram, we encourage our community to report content that concerns them. We have a trained team of reviewers who work 24/7 to remove anything which violates our terms."