Instagram is “pausing” development on Instagram Kids — a separate platform that it had been building expressly for users under age 13.
“We believe building Instagram Kids is the right thing to do,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri wrote in a blog post, noting that children are getting mobile devices younger and younger, and misrepresenting their ages online. “We’ll use this time to work with parents, experts, and policymakers to demonstrate the value and need for this product.”
The pivot arrives in the wake of an explosive Wall Street Journal report revealing that internal Facebook research concluded that Instagram was contributing to worsening body image issues for one in three teen girls. The Journal notes that Facebook has made minimal effort to address these issues, and plays them down in public.
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“I don’t agree with how the Journal has reported on our research,” Mosseri retorted, calling out the company’s extensive anti-bullying work and recent protections for younger users. He also noted that Instagram is exploring a feature that would encourage people to look at other topics if they’re dwelling unhealthily, or to pause their accounts to determine whether time is being spent meaningfully.
In concept, Instagram Kids would be aimed at tweens aged 10 to 12, Mosseri said, and would require parental permission to join. It wouldn’t carry ads, and would only comprise age-appropriate content and features. On Instagram Kids, parents could supervise the time that their children spend on the app, as well as followers and direct messaging.
Mosseri said Instagram would continue to work on safety features for users over the age of 13, including implementing the aforementioned parental tools to its original platform.
Instagram Kids has been facing criticism for months, prior to the Journal report. In May, 44 Attorneys General urged Facebook to scrap its plans, citing children’s mental health and privacy concerns.