The planned development of an Instagram for kids by Facebook was paused on Monday by the social media company after the announcement of the plan was severely criticised by lawmakers as well as users.
“While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens,” the company said in a statement.
The planned app was initially meant for children aged 10 to 12, said Instagram head Adam Mosseri.
Recently there was a damning report published by Wall Street Journal which found that the company had repeatedly discovered that its Instagram app is harmful for a number of teenagers and this latest decision is believed to have also been influenced by that revelation. The Journal report was based on studies conducted by Facebook during the past three years aimed to discover how the young user base of Instagram was affected by the app. The studies found that notable harm was caused to teenage girls in particular.
The report also quoted an internal Facebook presentation that showed that of all the teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13 per cent of the users from the United Kingdom, and 6 per cent from the United States believed such thoughts occurred because of Instagram.
The revelation prompted legislators to revisit their worries about the social networking app. Representatives from both parties sought explanations from Facebook shortly after the news surfaced. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., has also urged Facebook to discontinue its Instagram for Kids initiatives.
On Thursday, Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, will appear before the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on consumer protection.
Facebook has justified its efforts to attract more children to the app on several occasions. Mosseri claimed in an early Monday blog post that youngsters are already online.
“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. 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 said.
The company said it was pausing the project to address the concerns expressed by parents, experts, policymakers and regulators while it would continue to add more features to enhance parental controls to teen accounts.
“These new features, which parents and teens can opt into, will give parents the tools to meaningfully shape their teen’s experience,” Mosseri said.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)