Development of Instagram for Younger Audience Strongly Opposed

REUTERS/Thomas White

Facebook’s plan to develop its kids version of Instagram has been put on hold. The announcement follows an investigative series by The Wall Street Journal which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety.

When Facebook first made its announcement of it’s launching of a kid’s version of Instagram, it was met with strong opposition.

Two months later, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project, citing the well being of children.

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

“Facebook is heeding our calls to stop plowing ahead with plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids,” tweeted Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. “But a ‘pause’ is insufficient. Facebook must completely

Other arguments put forth include: The Senate’s planned hearing Thursday with Facebook’s global safety head, Antigone Davis, to address what the company knows about how Instagram affects the mental health of younger users.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, maintained Monday that the company believes it’s better for children under 13 to have a specific platform for age-appropriate content, and that other companies like TikTok and YouTube have app versions for that age group.

Mosseri also said that it’s better to have a version of Instagram where parents can supervise and control their experience rather than relying on the company’s ability to verify if kids are old enough to use the app.

Facebook is putting the project on hold to take some time to address concerns that have been raised about the vulnerability of younger users, and it will also be expanding opt-in parental supervision tools to teen accounts of those 13 and older. As for a permanent disbanding of the project, one will have to wait and see.

 – Ella Breedlove

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