Facebook Child Instagram

September 28, 2021
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Pause or Play?

Facebook pauses its development of an Instagram platform for children.
Here's what you should know:

The Concept:

  • Facebook owns Instagram.
  • Earlier this year, FB internally announced a new “priority” to create an Instagram platform for kids under the age of 13, specifically for ages 10 – 12.
  • Instagram currently blocks users under the age of 13 from creating an account; however, Facebook acknowledged some users enter a false date of birth to gain access.
  • Reports: Instagram’s app for kids was to be ad-free and provide a “safer” environment for younger users that parents could monitor.

Context:

  • In May, attorneys general from 44 states and territories wrote to urge FB to stop plans for the new Instagram Kids app.
  • Congressional lawmakers (Democrats) wrote FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg in September, likewise asking the company to abandon plans for the new platform: “We are deeply concerned that your company continues to fail in its obligation to protect young users.”
  • Recently, the WSJ exposed FB’s internal research showing Instagram’s impact is damaging to some young users – especially girls.

What Did The Data Say?

FB released their internal research before the Senate hearing and after the WSJ report:

  • “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”
  • “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.”
  • A theme in the research? The fraught nature of social comparisons.
  • To be fair: Some teens said Instagram was a positive force of connecting to family, friends, entertainment and current events.
"I beg to differ with you, Ms. Davis. This research is a bombshell. It is powerful, gripping, riveting evidence that Facebook knows of the harmful effects of its site on children and that it has concealed those facts and findings."

Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) to Facebook’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, who testified before the Senate Commerce subcommittee that FB’s internal research was “not a bombshell.” Lawmakers of both parties criticized Facebook, comparing the company to “Big Tobacco” – preying on children for profit.

“I still firmly believe that it’s a good thing to build a version of Instagram that’s 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.”

Instagram head Adam Mosseri, a father to three boys, announcing a pause on the development of Instagram for kids. Mosseri and Zuckerberg have said that social media can help kids with forming / maintaining connections and that their research was about learning how to improve, not capitalize on, children’s use.

EXPLAINER: Why Facebook is holding off on kids’ Instagram

Facebook to Halt Instagram Kids Project Amid Pressure From Lawmakers, Parents Groups

Attorney Generals letter to Zuckerburg

Instagram’s Plan for Kids Met With Hostile Response (April, 7, 2021)

Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show – The Wall Street Journal

by Jenna Lee,

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