Facebook halts plans for a Tween-version of Instagram

29 October 21

In March, Facebook announced the creation of an Instagram Kids app, stating it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.” The concept of the app version for kids had been floating since March, with features such as strict parental restrictions, age-appropriate material, and no advertising. 

However, two months later, a bipartisan group of 44 attorney generals responded to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, pushing him to quit the initiative, with the safety of minors as a main reason.

This single reason seems to have brought people together more than a dislike for the product. Parents, mental health professionals, child welfare advocates, law enforcement, and lawmakers have all expressed opposition to the idea [of the app]. 

Everyone except Facebook shared common concerns such as cognitive development and child safety. 

“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.” 

– Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show

According to an investigative report by the Wall Street Journal, they found that Facebook knows how Instagram causes anxiety and other mental health issues in teenage girls.

“Facebook is heeding our calls to stop plowing ahead with plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids. But a ‘pause’ is insufficient. Facebook must completely abandon this project.”

– Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey

However, Facebook claims creating an app for children between the ages of 10-12 will help keep what they see, who they speak to, who they follow, etc., up to the parents. This would make it a fully parent-dependent app. 

Adam Moserri also mentioned that pausing Instagram Kids “was a tough decision. I still think building this experience is the right thing to do, but we want to take more time to speak with parents and experts working out how to get this right.”

Will Facebook pull the plug on Instagram Kids or go through with it in the end? We’ll have to wait and see.

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