Facebook pauses work on children’s version of Instagram after criticism

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Facebook is pausing work on Instagram Kids, a version of the platform aimed at children under the age of 13. The company says it will continue to work on its parental control tools.

“We believe that creating ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, but we are pausing the work,” the company wrote in a blog post. Instagram and its parent company Facebook indicate that the companies will re-evaluate the children’s project at a later date. In the meantime, the company wants to continue to focus on “teenage safety and expanding parental control features.” Instagram also wants to talk to parents, policy makers and experts about the children’s version of the platform.

Instagram, in its own words, continues to believe that Instagram Kids is ‘important’. The company claims, among other things, that children are ‘getting phones younger and younger’ and that their age is incorrectly indicated in apps that are intended for people of thirteen years or older, in order to still be able to use them. “The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed just for them is much better for parents than the current situation,” the company said.

The existence of Instagram Kids came to light in March, when internal memos about the project leaked to the press. Facebook then confirmed that it was working on this Instagram children’s version, to which U.S. prosecutors issued a letter urging the company to stop work on it.

More recently, The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles on Facebook and Instagram. The newspaper published, among other things, an article about an investigation by Instagram itself, which shows that the platform can be harmful to teenagers. For example, the app could contribute to insecurity about their bodies among teenage girls.

The coverage again raised questions about Instagram Kids among policymakers. US senators sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after the Wall Street Journal article was published, again calling on the company to cancel its plans for Instagram Kids. Facebook’s chief of security must also testify before the US Senate on Thursday, CNBC writes. Instagram has previously responded to the coverage of The Wall Street Journal. Among other things, the company believes that the newspaper article only highlights the negative aspects of the investigation. Facebook published a new blog on Sunday in which the company says the newspaper misinterpreted the investigation.

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