Government pushes for teen-oriented social media jargon-buster guidelines

Children’s Commissioner aims to make it easier for teens to understand the policies of social networking sites

Instagram on a smartphone screen

Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield believes social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Youtube need to improve their policies in order to better clarify what children agree to when they sign up.

According to the commissioner's report Growing Up Digital, one third of internet users are under the age of 18 and spend up to 20 hours a week online.

Additionally, the report states that most of these children do not realise how the privacy and ownership of their data is used on the social media sites they spend so much time on.

To fix this problem, Longfield wants the UK government to follow the EU's GDPR, as it requires EU companies with digital services used by children to simplify their terms and conditions by May 2018.

Longfield collaborated with privacy law firm Schillings simplified Instagram's terms and conditions page so children can better understand what exactly they agree to when they use these sites as an example.

However, Instagram has stated that this simplified version of their terms and conditions was riddled with inaccuracies.

According to the BBC, Instagram stated: "It is wrong to suggest we share young people's personal information, contact details or content of direct messages with advertisers without their permission. Nor do we share details of who people are messaging with."

Robert Lands, from Howard Kennedy law firm, sided with Instagram stating that these pages sometimes have to be long because it is the only way state explicitly and fully what exactly is happening to users' data.

Despite these differing opinions, it is important that everybody, including children, know their rights when it comes to their information on the internet so they can safely browse the web, especially in the face of GDPR which will change the ways in which data protection is handled in the EU.

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