Facebook puts Instagram for kids on hold after pushback

Instagram is putting a hold on the development of Instagram kids, geared towards children under 13, so it can address concerns about the vulnerability of younger users

Facebook is putting a hold on the development of a kids’ version of Instagram, geared toward children under 13, to address concerns that have been raised about the vulnerability of younger users.

“I still firmly believe that it’s a good thing to build a version of Instagram that’s designed to be safe for tweens, but we want to take the time to talk to parents and researchers and safety experts and get to more consensus about how to move forward,” said Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, in an interview Monday on NBC’s “Today” show.

Yet the development of Instagram for a younger audience was met with broader opposition almost immediately.

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.

Josh Golin, executive director of children’s digital advocacy group Fairplay, urged the company Monday to permanently pull the plug on the app.

“We urge Facebook to use this ‘pause’ to actually engage with the independent child development experts who understand how Instagram will undermine young children’s wellbeing,” he said in a prepared statement.

He said in a blog post 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.

Mosseri said that Instagram for kids is meant for those between the ages of 10 and 12, not younger. It will require parental permission to join, be ad free, and will include age-appropriate content and features. Parents will be able to supervise the time their children spend on the app, oversee who can message them, who can follow them and who they can follow.

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 details on these tools will be disclosed in the coming months, Mosseri said.

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AP Technology Writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.

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