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Facebook's IGTV reportedly recommends heinous videos to kids

Instagram responds by saying it has "zero tolerance for ... explicit images or images of child abuse."

The IGTV logo on display on a wall of astroturf

Instagram's IGTV is a video-focused app spun off of the popular photo-sharing app owned by Facebook. 

James Martin/CNET

IGTV, a video-focused app spun off of Facebook's popular photo-sharing app Instagram, recommends offensive videos to young users, a report by Business Insider said Friday. Clips with apparent child exploitation and genital mutilation surfaced in the app's "For You" and "Popular" sections for an anonymous account the publication registered as belonging to a 13-year old, according to the report. 

Backlash over multiple examples of shocking, objectionable content has been a persistent problem for social-media giant Facebook, though it isn't alone. Any company that allows people to share media runs the risk of graphic uploads. Google's YouTube, for example, has been plagued by troubling content as well. But Facebook is under heightened scrutiny, especially in the last year, for its failures on privacyintegrity and security lately.

Now playing: Watch this: What is Instagram's IGTV?
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Instragram, in a statement, said it cares "deeply about keeping all of Instagram -- including IGTV -- a safe place for young people." It said that its community guidelines are designed to protect all users and that it has "zero tolerance for anyone sharing explicit images or images of child abuse."

All the content reported by Business Insider was removed from IGTV, Instagram added. In its report, Business Insider noted that it reported the offensive videos through Instagram's official reporting function, and the clips remained live on IGTV until the publication reached out to the company directly in advance of publication. 

"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," Instagram said in its statement. "We have a trained team of reviewers who work 24/7 to remove anything which violates our terms."

In a subsequent statement, Instagram said that the videos Business Insider found "shouldn't have happened." 

"We take our responsibility very seriously. We are actively exploring and investigating the situation," the company said. 

But a cursory visit to the IGTV section of Instagram (which is separate from the app itself) surfaced questionable content. One of my top "For You" recommendations was a one-minute video titled "Apparent Drug Overdose on Bronx St" that showed an incoherent man half prostrate in the street being handled by police and fire department authorities. 

Instagram said an overdose video like that didn't violate its guidelines and was likely recommended to me because I live in New York and it was posted by a New York news reporter. 

First published at Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m. PT.
Update at 11:49 a.m. PT: Adds more information about IGTV content and an additional response from Instagram.
Update at 12:43 p.m. PT: Adds additional response from Instagram. 

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