Instagram has been criticised after sexually suggestive videos of children were recommended to its users.
News site Business Insider found the videos during an investigation into Instagram’s IGTV app.
A video featuring a graphic depiction of genital mutilation was also recommended to many users.
Instagram apologised and said it had removed the videos from its service and shut down the account that posted the clips.
IGTV launched in June and is seen as a way for Instagram owner Facebook to compete with YouTube.
As with YouTube, people can post long videos to IGTV. Anyone using the Instagram app is encouraged to watch clips the service believes they would enjoy or which are proving popular.
In its investigation, Business Insider monitored which videos were being recommended to users of the fledgling IGTV service.
Its reporters set up dummy accounts on IGTV and populated some of them with profile information to suggest they were being used by children.
Over a three-week period, Isobel Hamilton said two videos showing young girls in “sexually suggestive” poses were recommended to dummy users, as well as another graphic video.
Several other sexually-themed videos were also pushed to the accounts.
The videos featuring the young girls were reported to the police by the NSPCC. The charity had helped Business Insider with its research and reviewed the content the reporters found.
The videos were removed five days after being reported.
“This is yet another example of Instagram falling short by failing to remove content that breaches its own guidelines,” the NSPCC told Business Insider.
In response, Instagram said it “cared deeply” about making sure all of Instagram, including IGTV, was a “safe place”.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone sharing explicit images or images of child abuse,” it told the BBC.
It said it had a proactive and reactive system set up to help spot and remove inappropriate content.
All the content reported by Business Insider has now been removed, it said, and the account that posted the sexual videos has been disabled.