According to the latest news, Instagram is “pausing” development of “Instagram Kids” — a version of the photo sharing app aimed at children under 13. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri announced the news in a blog post today. He said Instagram would continue to work on parental-supervised experiences for younger users.
In the blog and in a series of accompanying tweets, Mosseri blames the media and critics for misunderstanding the purpose of the app. He wrote, “It was never meant for younger kids, but for tweens (aged 10-12).” In another tweet, he wrote the news of the project “leaked way before we knew what it would be. People feared the worst, and we had few answers at that stage. It’s clear we need to take more time on this.”
It is worth mention that Instagram announced the pausing development of the app after The Wall Street Journal published a series of damning reports about Facebook last week. One of the stories revealed how Instagram’s own internal research suggested that the app made body issues worse for teenage girls. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, on the other hand, claimed these reports mischaracterized the company’s studies but refused any internal document.
Mosseri pointed that the WSJ’s reporting “raised a lot of questions for people” so Instagram introduced a number of anti bullying features and is also “exploring” new features that might encourage readers to take a break from the app.
The development of an Instagram version aimed at younger users was widely criticized by a number of groups. Facebook explained that young people were already active online so it is better that their experience is supervised. Facebook also promised no advertisements will be shown in this version. However, critics were not convinced.
Kathryn Montgomery, a senior strategist at the Center for Digital Democracy, told BBC News in April “Facebook claims that creating an Instagram for kids will help keep them safe on the platform. The company’s real goal is to expand its lucrative and highly profitable Instagram franchise to an even younger demographic, introducing children to a powerful commercialized social media environment that poses serious threats to their privacy, health, and wellbeing.”
Mosseri tweeted “I have to believe parents would prefer the option for their children to use an age-appropriate version of Instagram – that gives them oversight – than the alternative. But I’m not here to downplay their concerns, we have to get this right.”