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Facebook has announced it is pausing development of an Instagram app aimed at children and will instead focus on parental supervisions tools.
The pause comes after the social media giant faced backlash after the Wall Street Journal reported on internal documents that showed the main Instagram app was harmful to underage users.
In a blog post, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri wrote the company believed it was better for children to use a version of the app designed specifically for them.
“While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project,” Mosseri wrote.
“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.”
Facebook under fire for ignoring app’s ill effects
In an investigation series titled The Facebook Files, the WSJ alleged Facebook was aware of several ill effects the platform had on its users but did nothing to fix them.
The series alleges Instagram researchers found the app was harmful to a sizable percentage of young users and notably teenage girls. This, despite Facebook constantly playing down the app’s negative effects in public.
In response, Facebook said the journal had taken the research out of context.
It further stated it stands by the research as it informed its work helping users who experience the effects.
Instagram for Kids
Buzzfeed first reported that Instagram was working on a child-centred version of the app back in March.
The report drew criticism from many advocacy groups who argued the app could compromise childrens’ safety, privacy, and wellbeing.
Mosseri said the app would offer age-appropriate experiences for children that are already active online.
He pointed to apps like YouTube already having versions of their apps aimed at users under the age of 13.
“Our intention is not for this version to be the same as Instagram today”, he explained.
“It was never meant for younger kids, but for tweens (aged 10-12).”
The app would require parental permission to join and parents could supervise the time their children spent on it. They could also oversee who could message and follow their children as well as who they could follow.
The app would also not have any ads on it, according to the company.
Mosseri said going forward, Instagram would look into expanding the app’s tool for parents to oversee their children’s’ accounts.
The company will share more information on the expansion in the coming months.
Featured image: Unsplash/McKaela Taylor