Facebook is putting a hold on the development of a kids' version of Instagram, geared toward children under 13, to address concerns that have been raised about the vulnerability of younger users. The announcement follows an investigative series by The Wall Street Journal which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety. Yet the development of Instagram for a younger audience was met with broader opposition almost immediately.
In a published blog post, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said "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".
"We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older".
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.