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UK data watchdog probes Snapchat’s handling of underage users 

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Snapchat is under scrutiny by the UK's data regulator as concerns mount over its effectiveness in removing underage users and ensuring the safety of younger users.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is probing whether the app removes accounts of young children from its platform.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok stipulate a minimum user age of 13.

This is to mitigate exposure to harmful content for younger audiences.

Read More: Microsoft Faces EU Probe Over Bundling Of Teams 

This follows a report shared with the media regulator Ofcom.

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The report revealed Snapchat had taken minimal action to expel underage users from its UK platform.

Between April 2021 and April 2022, Snap, the owner of Snapchat, reportedly removed just 700 suspected underage accounts in the country. 

This figure, disclosed to Reuters through data filed with Ofcom, represents just 0.4 percent of the approximately 180,000 accounts TikTok eliminated during the same period.

"It makes no sense"

An undisclosed Snap insider told Reuters: "It makes no sense that Snapchat is blocking a fraction of the number of children that TikTok is."

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Snapchat employs automatic mechanisms to block users attempting to register with birthdates indicating they are below 13 years old. 

But Ofcom's findings reveal almost two-thirds of children under this age possess at least one social media account.

This suggests many many use false birthdates to bypass age restrictions.

A Snap spokesperson dismissed the leaked figures as misleading.

They said the data doesn't accurately depict its extensive efforts to prevent under-13s from accessing its platform. 

They said: “We take our obligations to keep under 13s off of Snapchat seriously.

"Every month in the UK we block or delete tens of thousands of attempts from underage users to create a Snapchat account.

“This is an industry wide-challenge and we are working collaboratively with the government, regulators and other tech companies to find industry-wide solutions.”

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