Facebook has placed the creation of a kids’ version of Instagram, aimed at youngsters under the age of 13, on hold in order to address concerns about the vulnerability of younger users.
“I still feel it’s a good idea to develop a version of Instagram that’s meant to be safe for tweens,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.
Facebook announced the development of an Instagram Kids app in March, saying at the time that it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.”
Two months later, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project, citing the well-being of children.
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.
Mosseri maintained Monday that the company believes it’s better for children under 13 to have a specific platform for age-appropriate content, and that other companies like TikTok and YouTube have app versions for that 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.