Not happening now
Facebook is putting its plan for a kid’s version of the Instagram app on hold, for now. The social media giant announced the creation of the app geared towards kids under 13, in March. Facebook said at the time it was exploring a parent-controlled experience. But there was immediate push back from parents and researchers worried about the vulnerability of younger users.
Two months after the announcement, a bipartisan group of 44 Attorneys General wrote to Mark Zuckerberg to urge him to drop the project. They pointed to 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. It was promoted as a way for kids to chat with family members and friends approved by parents.
Josh Golin, executive director of children’s digital advocacy group Fairplay, is urging Facebook to permanently pull the plug on Instagram Kids. So is a group of Democratic members of Congress,
“Facebook is heeding our calls to stop plowing ahead with plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids,” tweeted Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. “But a `pause’ is insufficient. Facebook must completely abandon this project.”
Facebook’s global safety head, Antigone Davis is defending the app saying the company believes it’s better for children under 13 to have a specific platform for age-appropriate content, and that other platforms like TikTok and YouTube have app versions for this age group.
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.
Facebook says Instagram for kids is meant for the 10 to 12 age group, 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.