Instagram’s Help Center No Help for Parents

If you click on the search box at the top of this page and search for “Instagram”, you can see that we’ve written about the photo-sharing app and network plenty of times. Unfortunately, a lot of our Instagram posts involve parents looking for help getting the accounts of their underage kids deleted.

instagram-rec-5It should be pretty simple. The age limit for Instagram is 13. A 12-year old can’t enter into a contract with Instagram, so if the child starts a rogue account, the account should belong to the parents. At the very least, the parents should be able to (a) easily contact Instagram, and (b) have them promptly delete the account.

It doesn’t work that way.

There is no phone number or email address listed, which does a pretty good job of telling you who the customer is. It’s not you. Users with a problem are directed to submit a form from Instagram’s Help Center. If you go to the page “How do I report a child under the age of 13 on Instagram?” you see the following:

instagram-help-center

  • You can get instructions for showing your child how to delete the account
  • You can report the account to Instagram (whether it’s your child, another child or someone impersonating your child)

That’s it. You can’t ask Instagram nicely to delete the account. You can’t say, “THIS IS MY CHILD.” If you do report the account, Instagram won’t do anything unless proof already exists in the account that the user is under 13. If there’s no proof then you’re out of luck.

We got an email today from a parent that is similar to dozens of other emails that we’ve gotten. Her under-13 daughter opened an Instagram account using a bogus email address. You can do this on Instagram because they don’t require verification of a new user’s email address. Now that the parent has found out about the account, the child claims to have forgotten the email address. Since there is no valid email address attached to the account, the parent can’t reset the password.

Is there another way to contact Instagram? Not that we know of. The Twitter account @InstagramSupport hasn’t tweeted since 2012.

This parent is out of luck, and we had to tell her that. At some point, the government needs to take action and force Instagram to respect the rights of parents.

 

 

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