Is Instagram debt on the rise?

I recently contributed to Huffington Post’s takeover of Radio 5 Live, speaking to Lucy Pasha-Robinson about how young people may be overspending on Instagram.

It comes as three quarters (74%) of young people surveyed by Comres said more restrictions should be placed on targeted ads on social media to protect vulnerable people with financial issues.

Instagram’s new ‘checkout’ function will now make it even easier for users to make in-app purchases, something I worry will take important “friction” out of online shopping journeys and therefore dramatically decrease the time we have to consider the purchase before making it.

I said:

“In years gone by, you’d go to the shops and temptations would be around you but when you went home, you would have a break from the relentless commercial pressures of the modern world. Young people don’t get a break now. It’s 24/7, they’re constantly on and they’re constantly being sold something.”

I also believe (sadly) that consumer welfare will always be secondary to what is profitable for the platforms.

“Tech companies are all working in an unholy and unhealthy alliance with each other to promote their own commercial interests. To imagine they will ever take significant steps to increase friction and to make it harder for people to make impulse purchases, that’s pure fantasy.”

For me, the crux of the issue is that regulation can’t keep up with an industry that is evolving at such pace. Young people need independent voices to keep calling out the dangers of this new digital frontier.

“When young people are engaging with influencers online, they are not engaging with people just like them. They are going into the online equivalent of a shop with a really pushy sales assistant. These are people that we think are like our friends, but they’re not. These are business people that want to make money. That sounds brutal, but that’s what I think.”

To read the full article, click here.

What do you think? Does Instagram encourage young people to spend more than they intended? Should it do more to protect more vulnerable young consumers? Or do young people need to take responsibility for their own digital shopping behaviour? Leave a comment below or tweet me – @ionayoungmoney.

This Post Has One Comment

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    Peter K

    That would be something similar to regulate brick and mortar stores from having display windows since “vulnerable people with financial issues” might walk by and feel the need to buy something. I might not be correct since I am not a shopaholic and I can easily control my urges to buy vs save but I think that would be an unfair regulation.

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