If YouTube Can, Instagram, You Can Too - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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If YouTube Can, Instagram, You Can Too

If YouTube Can, Instagram, You Can Too

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has grown to become the biggest video sharing platform on the internet.1 While YouTube provides access to content that includes music videos, news clips, documentaries, and even “water bottle flip challenges,” all content is not available to everyone.2 When deciding whether content is appropriate for all ages, YouTube’s review team considers vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content, and portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities.3 Additionally, age-restricted content will not be eligible for profit.4 YouTube has especially protected children under the age of 18 from sexually suggestive content.5


Since its inception in 2012, Instagram has grown to become the biggest photo and video sharing applications (“app”).6 Unlike YouTube, once logged in on Instagram, a user can access any user information so long as they “follow” an individual, or a user’s profile is “public.”7 Additionally, whereas YouTube’s review team is in place to consider whether content is “Age-restricted,” Instagram’s closest mechanism is its “Tips for Parents” which places the burden of protecting children from age-restricted content on a child’s parent.8 Yet, Instagram has similar sexually suggestive content, if not more, than YouTube.9 Undoubtedly, one of the dangers of teens on Instagram is nudity.10 In the United Kingdom (“UK”), for example, Instagram is also used by 56% of 12-15 year olds and 43% of 8-11 year olds.11 Consequently, 56% of 12-15 year olds and 43% of 8-11 year olds in the UK are exposed to nudity.


In the United States, sexual expression which is indecent, but not obscene is protected by the First Amendment.12 The Court stated that there are less intrusive means to protecting children from sexually indecent material such as parental consent.13 Further, Justice Ginsburg found that restricting sexual expression on the internet would be “burn[ing] the house to roast the pig.”14


Because of the obstacles of governmental regulation of indecent sexual content such as “twerking,” Instagram, on its own accord, should follow suit and protect children from one of the dangers of teens on Instagram–nudity.

  1. http://listabuzz.com/top-10-most-visited-websites-in-the-world/ [https://perma.cc/8992-WYQT] (ranking YouTube as the third most visited site on the internet).

  2. See https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802167?hl=en [https://perma.cc/PF5G-VV8C] (“Age-restricted videos are not visible to users who are logged out, are under 18 years of age, or have restricted mode enabled”).

  3. Id.

  4. Id.

  5. See e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQLyRSxXUTU [http://perma.cc/5PTC-B4TE] (determining that an uploaded video of a woman “twerking” is age-restricted content).

  6. http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/photo-sharing-sites [https://perma.cc/3752-RT8L] (ranking Instagram as the most popular photo sharing sites as of March 2017).

  7. https://help.instagram.com/154475974694511/ [https://www.instagram.com/p/BUFwsl2gqYe/].

  8. Id.

  9. See e.g. https://www.instagram.com/p/BRKnN3sARAj/ [https://perma.cc/FV75-VAKQ] (depicting an “Instagramer” with 1.4 million followers as of May 2, 2017 “twerking” on her public page).

  10. http://www.socialschool101.com/7-dangers-on-instagram-for-kids/ [https://perma.cc/28X3-7L2T].

  11. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/childrens-commissioner-anne-longfield-calls-for-anti-bullying-online-watchdog-instagram-worries-growing-up-digital_uk_586d6e09e4b0f100063b0774 [http://perma.cc/U5U4-MCLH].

  12. See Reno v. ACLU 521 U.S. 844 (1997) (stating that the government may not reduce the adult population to only what is fit for children).

  13. Id.

  14. Id.

Khasim Lockhart

Khasim Lockhart is a second-year law student at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. He misses old-school R&B.