Facebook to ‘Pause’ Instagram for Kids Amid Growing Concerns

This photo taken on October 5, 2020 in Toulouse, southwestern France, shows the logos of U.S. social networks Facebook and Instagram on the screens of a tablet and mobile phone. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP) (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook is suspending development of a children’s version of Instagram, aimed at children under 13, to address concerns raised about the vulnerability of younger users.

“I still strongly believe it’s a good thing to create a version of Instagram designed to be safe for tweens, but we want to take the time to talk to parents, researchers and security experts and achieve a plus. great consensus on how to move forward, “Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said in an interview on NBC’s” Today “show Monday.

The announcement follows a series of Wall Street Journal surveys that reported that Facebook knew that some teenage girls’ Instagram use leads to mental health issues and anxiety.

Still, Instagram’s development for a younger audience encountered wider opposition almost immediately.

Facebook announced the development of an Instagram Kids app in March, saying at the time that it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.” Two months later, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project, citing child welfare.

They cited an increase in cyberbullying, possible vulnerability to online predators and what they called Facebook’s “checkered record” of protecting children on its platforms. Facebook faced similar criticism in 2017 when it launched the Messenger Kids app, touted as a way for kids to chat with parent-approved family members and friends.

Josh Golin, executive director of children’s digital rights group Fairplay, urged the company on Monday to permanently unplug the app.

“We urge Facebook to use this ‘pause’ to truly engage with independent child development experts who understand how Instagram will undermine the well-being of young children,” he said in a prepared statement.

Mosseri claimed on Monday that the company believes it is best for children under 13 to have a specific platform for age-appropriate content, and that other companies like TikTok and YouTube have versions. applications for this age group.

He said in a blog post that it was better to have a version of Instagram where parents can oversee and control their experience rather than relying on the company’s ability to verify whether children are old enough to use the app.

Mosseri said Instagram for Kids is for people aged 10 to 12, not the youngest. It will require parental permission to register, be ad-free, and include age-appropriate content and features. Parents will be able to monitor the time their kids spend on the app, see who can message them, who can follow them, and who they can follow.

While work is suspended on Instagram Kids, the company will expand opt-in parental supervision tools to teen accounts 13 and older. More details on these tools will be released in the coming months, Mosseri said.

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