Facebook pauses work on Instagram Kids app
13:36, 27 September 2021
Facebook is pausing work on its Instagram Kids app, the social network said in a blog post.
“While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project,” Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said in the post.
In early afternoon trading, Facebook shares were down 1.12% at $348.40.
Buzzfeed broke Instagram Kids story
Earlier this year, Buzzfeed News broke the story that Facebook was “exploring a parent-controlled experience” on Instagram. Monday’s move comes in the wake of backlash from the media and lawmakers.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported earlier this month on internal Instagram data finding that the social media app was harmful to teenage girls. Facebook responded to the WSJ article in separate a blog post released on Sunday.
In response to the WSJ article, Facebook’s vice president, head of research, Pratiti Raychoudhury, wrote: “Contrary to The Wall Street Journal’s characterisation, Instagram’s research shows that on 11 of 12 well-being issues, teenage girls who said they struggled with those difficult issues also said that Instagram made them better rather than worse.”
Mosseri also tweeted: “U13s are getting phones, misrepresenting their age and downloading 13+ apps. YouTube and TikTok saw this happening and made u13 products, [so] we were doing the same.”
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Lawmakers pressure Zuckerberg
In May, the Associated Press reported that a group of 44 US attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to drop plans for a younger version of Instagram.
However, children under 13 are not allowed to use Instagram due to US privacy regulations.
“Our intention is not for this version to be the same as Instagram today. 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,” Mosseri said in Monday’s press release.
Instagram to re-evaluate project
Instagram has said it will re-evaluate the project at a later date, giving it time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators to listen to their concerns and to demonstrate the value and importance of the project.
It will also work on expanding its parental controls to teen accounts.
“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” Instagram’s Mosseri said.
Facebook bought social picture-sharing site Instagram for $1bn (£730m) in 2012.
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