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

The Instagram accounts, numbering in the thousands, reveal how social media platforms are altering the definition of childhood and the increasing commodification of young girls, the Times 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 Times. In some cases, men flirt, torment, and extort the daughters and parents into providing increasingly scandalous photos.

Moreover, men brazenly indulge in fantasies regarding sexually exploiting the children they follow on Instagram in conversations on the messaging app Telegram, according to the Times, which reported observing multiple chat rooms. The men commend Instagram for its role in allowing photos of underage girls 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, the Times reported. “And there’s an infinite supply of it—literally just refresh your Instagram Explore page [and] there’s fresh preteens.”

Despite Instagram’s banning users under 13 from using the platform, parents establish and manage accounts for their children, the Times reported. 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 Times. “But she’s been doing this so long now. Her numbers are so big. What do we do? Just stop it and walk away?”

The considerable number of followers that the children’s Instagram accounts attract can prove advantageous for families, according to the Times. 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 New York Times’ sample, but the newspaper reported that the proportion often increases substantially as accounts grow in popularity, topping 75% for those with over 100,000 followers.

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

Certain girls on Instagram only secure deals on clothing, get gifts from Amazon wish lists, or get paid through Cash App, the Times reported. 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,” Andy Stone, a spokesman for Meta, Instagram’s parent company, 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 in January during a congressional hearing about Instagram allegedly assisting pedophiles in accessing inappropriate child sexual content, and he defended the social media platform’s policies. Zuckerberg stood and apologized to families whose children were victimized.

Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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