Facebook said Monday that it is suspending development of a version of its Instagram photo-sharing app for children aged under 13, after widespread criticism of the plan.
The decision to pause the kids’ app comes as Facebook grapples with the fallout of a series of withering Wall Street Journal reports revealing that the company’s own research showed it was aware of the damage Instagram can do to teenage girls’ mental health.
Instagram chief Adam Mosseri complained that the project aimed at children, which would have created a parentally-supervised version of the app for youngsters, had been widely misunderstood.
“We firmly believe that it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them — where parents can supervise and control their experience — than relying on an app’s ability to verify the age of kids who are too young to have an ID,” he added.
– ‘Toxic effects on young people’ –
Widely referred to by the unofficial name “Instagram Kids”, the initiative has attracted criticism from various groups since reports of its development emerged earlier this year.
Following the Journal revelations regarding potential harms linked to Facebook platforms, senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal announced a hearing focused in the question of protecting children on social media.
Facebook has confirmed that Antigone Davis, its global head of safety, will testify at the hearing.
Facebook has hit back at the Wall Street Journal’s characterization of the internal research, stressing that the studies detailed both positive and negative experiences of social media by young people.