Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Facebook pauses ‘Instagram Kids’ App Development amid backlash

Facebook yesterday refuted claims that Instagram is toxic for teenagers. This came two weeks after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published details on a report that Facebook ran some while back but kept under wraps. We talked about this in Issue 24 of our weekly newsletter.

The social media company which owns Instagram and WhatsApp said WSJ had poorly interpreted the data they had. The company’s global head of safety is expected to appear before a US Senate committee to answer more on the same.

Today, however, the company has through a blog post announced it has stopped its plans to build an Instagram app for kids under 13 years. This is definitely in response to the backlash that has surrounded the report of the platform being toxic for teenagers.

Some of the highlights from Instagram’s Blog Post:

Policy:

Facebook says it is pausing the development to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page:

“While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project. This will give us 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.”

Kids are already online:

“YouTube and TikTok have versions of their app for those under 13,” The company notes.

The company says that while critics will see their decision to pause the app development as proof that it was a bad idea, that’s not the case.

Instagram Kids will require parental Permission:

In the blog post, the company says the app will target kids aged 10-12. And that kids “will require parental permission to join, it won’t have ads, and it will have age-appropriate content and features.”

In response to the WSJ Report:

The head of Instagram says in the blog post that he doesn’t agree with the WSJ take on the report. And that the company’s research helps them build tools to make the platform better.

The blog post doesn’t mention how long the project will be on pause, or when we can expect an Instagram Kids app to roll out.

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