Instagram boasts of over 1 billion users, but should children under the age of 13 be allowed to use the Facebook-owned photo and video sharing platform? NO, according to the over 180,000 people who have signed petitions against the proposed Instagram for kids. So what’s Instagram for kids and why has it sparked an outrage?
In March, it was reported that Facebook was working on a version of Instagram dedicated to children under the age of 13. Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, had confirmed the plan by revealing that a version of Instagram “where parents have control, like we did [with] Messenger Kids, is something we’re exploring”.
Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product, had said Facebook wanted to ensure the “safest possible experience for teens, and building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had told a Congressional hearing that Instagram for kids was in “very early stages.”
Three petitions launched against Instagram for kids have already drawn more than 180,000 signatures, according to USA Today. Groups like Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, SumOfUs, and Juggernaut Project, which launched the petitions last month, plan to submit them to Facebook ahead of the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
Earlier this month, 44 US attorneys general urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to drop the new version of Instagram in an open letter.
Kids Instagram is one of the most greedy, tone-deaf, and misguided concepts to ever emerge from Silicon Valley, said Josh Golin, Executive Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Instagram will not be allowed to exploit children as “pawns in its conflict with TikTok,” he said. Golin further claimed that on Instagram, teens and even adults struggle with the constant focus on looks, the constant fear of losing out, the promotion of influencer culture, and the pressure to gathering likes.
A Facebook spokesperson has said the tech giant has “just started exploring a version for kids. We agree that any experience we develop must prioritize their safety and privacy, and we will consult with experts in child development, child safety, and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform it”.
The spokesperson further assured that it will not show ads “in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13”.
Despite the criticism, Facebook seems to be well on course to launch a new version of Instagram. “I have to believe that it is better for everyone involved to give parents oversight and transparency and control into kids using Instagram than to pretend like they’re not lying about their age today,” The Information quoted Mosseri as saying on Monday.
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