Facebook is suspending its plan to create an Instagram for children. Why? – JP


Bowing – perhaps only for a moment – to pressure from lawmakers, critics, the media and child development experts, Facebook announced on Monday that it would “halt” its work on a children’s version of its photo and video-oriented Instagram application.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the saga:

What’s that Instagram plan for kids?

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in a statement Monday that this new Instagram platform would be aimed at people between the ages of 10 and 12. It will require parental authorization to register and will not contain any advertising. It will have age appropriate content and functionality.

“Parents can monitor their children’s time on the app and know who can message them, who can follow them, and who they can follow. The list is long, ”he said.

“We started this project to solve a big problem in our industry: kids are getting younger and younger phones, distorting their age, and downloading apps aimed at ages 13 and up. “

Instagram for Kids is for ages 10-12. Photo: AFP

What is the indignation?

In mid-September, The Wall Street Journal posted an explosive article which revealed that Facebook knew from its own research that Instagram was hurting certain teams, especially girls, leading to mental health and body image issues and, in some cases, disturbance eating and suicidal thoughts.

In public, however, Facebook has always played down the negative side of the app and so far has moved forward with the children’s version despite alarms from experts, lawmakers and its own research. He also relentlessly criticized the Newspaper article as handpicked from Facebook’s searches, although it did not dispute the facts. This story, however, was based on internal research leaked by a company whistleblower.

“The Wall Street Journal” posted an explosive article on Instagram. Photo: Getty Images

So, is Instagram for Kids canceled?

Facebook specifically did not say it would abandon the project. Instead, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in Monday’s statement that the company would use its break time “to work with parents, experts and policy makers to demonstrate the value and the need of this product “.

Translation: Expect Facebook to sharpen its post on Instagram’s “benefits” for kids in hopes the fury dies down.

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Who are the experts who work with Facebook?

Four years ago, Facebook said it brought together a group of experts in the fields of online safety, child development and children’s media to “share their expertise, research and advice.” The group he calls Youth Advisors includes well-known and lesser-known nonprofit groups including the Family Online Safety Institute, the Digital Wellness Lab, MediaSmarts, Project Rockit, and the Cyberbullying Research Center.

All of these groups receive some form of funding from Facebook, according to their websites. Meanwhile, some of the more well-known online children’s advocacy groups – and Facebook’s biggest critics on this issue – such as Common Sense Media and Fairplay (formerly known as Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood) are notoriously absent.

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What have critics said about Instagram issues?

Critics acknowledge that many co-op experts have good intentions, but say their influence has been negligible.

“Facebook has shown time and time again that it is incapable of governing or advising itself with integrity,” said Kyle Taylor, program director for the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group critical of the social network.

“Facebook’s funding of research and civil society is extremely problematic and prevents the kind of direct and open process required for real change to occur. “

When Facebook solicits comments on its plans, Taylor added, “the decks are always filled with experts who have a financial interest or who will never criticize Facebook’s core issues – their algorithm and their profit margin.”

Instagram has been popular among teens around the world. Photo: AP

And the other platforms?

Facebook, of course, isn’t the only tech platform whose products have raised concerns about children’s well-being.

And creating children’s versions to address these concerns is a popular response. After getting into trouble with US regulators for breaking children’s privacy rules, for example, TikTok has created a “limited and separate app experience” for users under the age of 13.

They can’t share videos, comment on other people’s videos, or message people. But like any other app, if kids enter a wrong date of birth when signing up for the app, they can bypass this provision.

YouTube also has a children’s version. Earlier this year, lawmakers called it a “wasteland of tasteless consumerist content” and launched an investigation that is still ongoing.

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