Facebook 'pauses' Instagram Kids development amid intense criticism
Facebook on Monday announced it had halted the development of Instagram Kids, a standalone Instagram version designed specifically for children aged 13 or younger. The decision preceded a congressional hearing into the fact that Facebook knew Instagram was detrimental to the mental health of teenage girls. Facebook's internal research about these harmful aspects was first brought to light by a Wall Street Journal report.
Facebook studies have affirmed Instagram's mental health effects
The aforementioned Wall Street Journal report showed that Facebook repeatedly found its Instagram app to be harming the teenagers that used it. According to the report, one internal Facebook presentation found that 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced their suicidal thoughts to Instagram. Facebook's studies over the last three years have repeatedly affirmed such findings.
Facebook remains confident Instagram Kids is the way forward
In a statement announcing that Instagram Kids' development is being shelved for now, the social media giant said, "While we believe building 'Instagram Kids' is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date." "In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens," it added.
Facebook halting development only amid the criticism it has drawn
Note that Facebook has plans to resume development sometime in the future. Instagram boss Adam Mosseri in a blog post explained they would use the "pause" to "work with parents, experts, policymakers, and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and...demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today." Instagram Kids would be ad-free and carry age-appropriate content, he wrote.
Facebook set to testify before Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Thursday
CNBC reported that lawmakers were pleased with the decision Facebook took on Monday. However, they called the pause "insufficient." On Thursday, Facebook's Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, would testify before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. Simultaneously, Facebook has defended its efforts to draw more children to Instagram. Its blog post argued that children are already on Instagram, despite age restrictions.