Facebook may soon be creating an Instagram designed primarily for children, a development coming just days after Instagram vowed to do more to protect children.
The app would be for children under the age of 13. Users of Instagram currently need to be at least 13 years old to register for the app, though there’s nothing to stop kids from registering with a fake birth year.
Social media apps are looking to build user bases at a young age that will become dedicated members – and viewers of their advertising – of platforms years to come.
YouTube has a children’s app, YouTube Kids, which launched back in 2016, but has run into trouble with targeted ads and violent videos making it through the app’s filtering system.
Instagram appears to be planning to build an app specifically for children under 13 years old
BuzzFeed News obtained an internal company post, which detailed the plans for the new photo-sharing app.
‘I’m excited to announce that going forward, we have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and have added it to our H1 priority list,’ Instagram’s VP of Product Vishal Shah said in the memo.
‘We will be building a new youth pillar within the Community Product Group to focus on two things: (a) accelerating our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens and (b) building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time.’
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri would help oversee the project, as well as vice president Pavni Diwanji, who helped oversee YouTube Kids.
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri (left) would help oversee the project, as well as vice president Pavni Diwanji (right), who helped oversee YouTube Kids
On Tuesday, Instagram published a blog post, ‘Continuing to Make Instagram Safer for the Youngest Members of Our Community.’
‘Protecting young people on Instagram is important to us,’ the post begins.
The post then lays out a number of steps Instagram is taking to make the app safer for young people.
Some of those tenets include a new Parents Guide, trying to figure out people’s real age on the app, preventing adults and teens from sending direct messages, and making it more challenging for adults to follow children.
The app is also encouraging teenagers on the app to keep their accounts private.
‘Instagram can provide young people the opportunity to strengthen connections, practice social skills and find supportive communities,’ said Dr. David Anderson of The Child Mind Institute, which collaborated on the Parents Guide.
Presumably, many of the steps Instagram is taking would apply to the new app for children.
Reaction to the new app on Twitter drew some criticism.
‘Very bad idea,’ one person tweeted. ‘Dangerous even, this should not happen.’
‘Things I would not trust Facebook with: My preteen child,’ wrote another.
One user, Mark Poppen, was more favorable in his thoughts: ‘If they do it like their Kids Messenger, I’m OK with it. Parents still have full access to their kid’s chats and I assume timeline on IG.’
Facebook does already have a messaging app for children, Messenger Kids, which launched in 2017.
Parents have oversight of the app, which doesn’t collect data for advertising purposes.
An Instagram built specifically for kids also sparks fears of more opportunities for cyberbullying to take place.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September reveals that 64 percent of adults under the age of 30 have been subjected to online harassment.
In 2019, Instagram created a feature that allowed users to restrict the comments on posts from select users to try to curb cyberbullying.