Facebook has announced that it is pausing the development of Instagram Kids, the app version for users under 13 years.
The move follows sharp criticism from industry players after the Wall Street Journal shared a damning report alleging that the app was causing harm to girls.
Instagram Chief Adam Mosserri said the company had decided to suspend the development of the app, saying it was instead focusing on parental-supervised experiences for young users.
A report publicized the WSJ showed that Facebook’s internal investigation revealed that the app was causing mental and body image issues to young girls using the app. This attracted sharp criticism against the company’s intent to develop an a version of the app for younger users.
Facebook however argues that the kids version of Instagram is to help protect their privacy, as they are already active on the main Instagram. The company says the kids’ version would have different privacy policies aimed at protecting the young. Mosseri cites TikTok and YouTube who already have versions for kids.
However, critics asserted that the kids version of Instagram was just another ploy for the company to develop more products and reel more people in.
“Facebook claims that creating an Instagram for kids will help keep them safe on the platform,” Kathryn Montgomery, a senior strategist at the Center for Digital Democracy said in April.
“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 noted that the pause was not a concession of the project being a bad idea.
“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.” he tweeted.