An Open Letter to Instagram

Hey there, it’s been a while since I was actively using you. Sorry, I’ve been kinda busy. BUT, you just gave us the ability to switch accounts easily, so I have a feeling I’ll be hanging out with you a bit more now.

We need to have a talk though. When you first launched, you were extremely vigilant about shutting down inappropriate content. And that is one of the things that helped you grow to the insanely popular app you have become. Things have certainly changed now, and not for the best. Your application has become riddled with pornography. You can’t even click on an innocent hashtag without running into it. This is making parents decide that their children should no longer be allowed on Instagram. This is sad. Instagram used to be a great place for kids (over 13) to share and communicate with friends. If this continues, good folks will leave in droves, and all that will be left is the pornography. Do you really want Instagram to become just a place for people to get porn?  I understand that it was probably a lot easier to keep on top of when your user base wasn’t as large.  Now that it IS though, you need a plan to bring it back to acceptable levels (or no levels at all, which I get would probably be impossible)

Please, on behalf of the people of the world that are trying to protect their families, do something about it. And soon. Even if it’s 18 and younger users don’t have the ability to click on hashtags or perform searches. That could be a quick fix.  I may still have to deal with seeing images I would rather not see, but at least my children will be a little bit safer.


Now that we have the children taken care of, can we talk about how you are going to improve your app so I don’t have to see those images either?  I’m in social media.  I run a website.  I’d LIKE to use hashtags to get my content out there in front of more people, but how can I find like minded content, when every single hashtag I see is riddled with images that VIOLATE your terms of service?  How can people stumble upon my content, when everyone out there is avoiding clicking on hashtags like the plague.


I don’t have the answer for you on that one.  You could develop something that will scan picture and video uploads for inappropriate content? It’s important to catch these things early.  It’s important to be STRICT about your policies. Maybe even going as far as when someone is reported for inappropriate content, the default is to shut down the account or remove the picture temporarily until your team can review the image to make sure it’s in violation.  If it’s not, then it can be re-enabled.  I am appreciating the great functionality you are already implementing, but maybe we can put Boomerang development on hold for a bit to help make Instagram a safer place for everyone.

I have conversations with my children constantly about how to deal when they come across pornography.  I am glad for those conversations.  In this world it is not a question of IF your child will come across a pornographic image… it’s a question of when.  I understand that.  I also understand that I can choose not to use your application. If it continues to get worse, I will be left with no choice but to ban Instagram in my home.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who will also do so.

I’d love to hear your plan of attack to rid your application of the filth I am currently seeing (even on innocent hashtags). Please fix this. I’ll totes be your BFF. Pinky promise!


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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website

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