Facebook Pauses Instagram Kids Amid Criticism

Exec Adam Mosseri defends the idea, says it will surface eventually
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 27, 2021 9:30 AM CDT
Facebook Pauses Instagram Kids Amid Criticism
The Instagram app.   (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, file)

Instagram is putting a hold on the development of Instagram Kids, geared toward children under 13, so it can address concerns about the vulnerability of younger users. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, wrote in a blog post Monday that a delay will give the company 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." The announcement follows a withering 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.

"Critics of 'Instagram Kids' will see this as an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea," writes Mosseri. "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." He emphasized that Instagram Kids was always intended to be for children ages 10 to 12 but no younger. "It will require parental permission to join, it won’t have ads, and it will have age-appropriate content and features," he adds.

Facebook announced the development of Instagram for kids in March, saying at the time that it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.” The pushback was almost immediate and in May, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project. They cited increased cyberbullying, possible vulnerability to online predators, and what they called Facebook’s “checkered record” in protecting children on its platforms. While work is being paused on Instagram Kids, the company will be expanding opt-in parental supervision tools to teen accounts of those 13 and older. (More Instagram stories.)

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