After complaints and bad press, Facebook pauses Instagram for Kids project

Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, announced today that Facebook is pausing its Instagram for Kids project and building new parental supervision tools.

Over the past few months, reports about Instagram developing an alternative for kids received a lot of bad press and some organizations criticized Facebook for this. Not only that, the Wall Street Journal published some stories about internal memos over Facebook saying how bad its app is for kids.

Early this morning, for example, a leaked memo showed that Instagram is harmful to teenage girls:

“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”

Now, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, published an article saying the company is pausing Instagram for Kids and, now, finally explains what the intentions for the project were:

We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older.

We firmly believe that it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them — where parents can supervise and control their experience — than relying on an app’s ability to verify the age of kids who are too young to have an ID.

While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project. This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.

In the blog post, Mosseri says Instagram isn’t the only company addressing “tweens” online. YouTube and TikTok all have versions of their apps for those under 13. He says that Instagram for Kids wouldn’t be the same as the app is nowadays.

It was never meant for younger kids, but for tweens (aged 10-12). It will require parental permission to join, it won’t have ads, and it will have age-appropriate content and features. Parents can supervise the time their children spend on the app and oversee who can message them, who can follow them and who they can follow. The list goes on. 

Even though the project is paused, Mosseri says Instagram will continue the work to allow parents to oversee their children’s accounts by expanding these tools to teen accounts on the platform.

You can read the full statement here.

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