Why Instagram Suspended Plans to Roll out Children’s Version
TECHDIGEST – Following widespread concerns about child online safety, Instagram has suspended its plans to build a version of the social media platform aimed at younger users.
Instagram boss, Adam Mosseri, announced that the project had leaked before concrete plans were ready and meant the company was unable to properly address concerns raised in some quarters, adding that Instagram would now ‘take more time’ to work on it.
Reports emerged earlier this year suggesting that the Facebook-owned company had been working on a spin-off version of the app designed for those under 13 and therefore currently too young to use the main platform, with politicians and campaigners raising concerns about exposing younger children to potential online harms.
But Mosseri said the aim had never been to create an ‘Instagram for Kids’ and had instead been focused on improving online safety for young people.
‘We were designing an experience for tweens (10-12yrs), and it was never going to be the same as Instagram today. Parents approve tween accounts and have oversight over who they follow, who follows them, who messages them, time spent, etc.
‘But the project leaked way before we knew what it would be. People feared the worst, and we had few answers at that stage. Recent Wall Street Journal reporting caused even greater concern. It’s clear we need to take more time on this.
‘So we’re pausing. We’re going to take the time to work with parents, policymakers, regulators, experts, to demonstrate why this project is valuable, and how it helps keep teens safe. Critics will see this as a concession that the project is a bad idea. That’s not it.’
Facebook and Instagram have been criticized in recent weeks after reports from the Wall Street Journal suggested the platforms’ own internal research had shown the sites had a negative impact on teenage girls and their body image, but these findings had not been published.
According to Mosseri, many children under the age of 13 were entering false birth date details in order to get onto social media, and that Instagram – like YouTube and TikTok – was trying to be proactive and look for ways to make a version of the site which was more age-appropriate.
He also confirmed that Instagram planned to introduce new parental supervision controls on the app in the coming months.