Facebook says it is putting its plans to develop a version of Instagram specifically for people under 13 on pause, after strong opposition from some child-safety advocates.
In a blog post, the company said: “While we stand by the need to develop this experience, 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.”
The company had been working on a version of the photo- and video-sharing app specifically for children. The company’s rationale for the project is that kids would be better served to have a version of the popular app specifically designed for them, as opposed to downloading the adult version and relying on the app’s ability to filter content.
“It won’t have ads, and it will have age-appropriate content and features,” Facebook said, noting that both YouTube and TikTok both have versions made specifically for kids.
Child-safety groups were sharply critical of the plan, arguing that encouraging children to spend time on Instagram could have negative impacts on them in terms of the amount of screen time it would involve, along with the impact on their mental health, self-esteem and budding consumer choices. The company made a lengthy response over the weekend refuting the Wall Street Journal’s extensive reporting on the backlash.
While pausing the plans for now, the company makes it clear it still thinks that a kid-focused version of the app is the best way to proceed over the long run.
“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri said. “That’s not the case.”