(PatriotWise.com)- Facebook has just announced a major new decision — it will not be moving forward with a plan for a version of its popular photo sharing app program Instagram that is geared toward kids.
The original plan was to have a “new” version of Instagram that would be targeted to children who are under 13 years old. Now, though, the company will put those plans on hold so they can address concerns that people raised about how vulnerable young users can be.
Despite his company’s pause on the plans, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said while being interviewed for the “Today” show on Monday:
“I still firmly believe that it’s a good thing to build a version of Instagram that’s designed to be safe for tweens, but we want to take the time to talk to parents and researchers and safety experts and get to more consensus about how to move forward.”
The amazing — and disturbing — part about that quote is that Mosseri is almost admitting that the current version of Instagram isn’t safe for tweens. And that falls exactly in line with a recent series of stories published by The Wall Street Journal.
Those stories showed Facebook was aware that use of Instagram by teenage girls led to them experiencing issues of mental health such as anxiety.
Almost immediately after Facebook announced plans of a version of Instagram for younger kids, it was met with broad opposition.
In March, Facebook — which owns Instagram — announced they were developing an app called Instagram Kids. At the time, the company said it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.”
In May, 44 attorneys that made up bipartisan group sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, that urged him to do away with the plans altogether. They cited concerns about the well-being of children.
In their letter, the group cited the possible vulnerability kids could face with online predators, increased instances of cyberbullying and the “checkered record” Facebook has in protecting children of all ages on their platforms.
In 2017, Facebook faced a lot of criticism when they launched the Messenger Kids app. It was touted then as a way that children could chat with their friends and family members — and those messages would be approved by parents.
But the executive director of a digital advocacy group focused on children called Fairplay, Josh Golin, said on Monday that Facebook should do away with plans for a kids-focused app forever.
In a statement, he said:
“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 well-being.”
Still, Mosseri said he believes it would be better for there to be a separate Instagram version app for kids who are 13 years old or younger, just as there are specific platforms for younger kids on YouTube and TikTok.
He wrote a blog post that said the younger version would allow parents to control and supervise the experience their kids were having, instead of relying on the company verifying whether users were old enough to use Instagram.