An international coalition of 35 groups of children and consumers called Instagram on Thursday to cancel plans to develop a version of the popular photo-sharing app for users under 13.
Instagram’s push for a kid-only app comes after years of complaints from lawmakers and parents that the platform has been slow to identify underage users and protect them from predators and sexual bullying.
But in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, CEOs of Facebook – the company that owns the photo-sharing service – the nonprofits warned that the children’s version of Instagram will not mitigate problems. problem like that. While 10 to 12 year olds with an Instagram account will find it hard to switch to the “kid version” of the app, the groups say it can draw younger users into endless habits. of image scrolling and body image shame.
“While collecting valuable family data and nurturing a new generation of Instagram users can be good for Facebook’s bottom line,” the groups, led by Boston’s Noncommercial Childhood Campaign, “It is likely to increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulation and exploitation features,” said in a letter to Mr. Zuckerberg.
The coalition of nonprofit groups also includes the African Digital Rights Center in Ghana; Australian Council for Children and Communication; Center for Digital Democracy in Washington; Common Sense Media in San Francisco; American Consumers Federation; and The 5Rights Foundation in the UK.
Stephanie Otway, a Facebook spokesperson, said Instagram is in the early stages of developing children’s services as part of an effort to prevent people under the age of 13 from using its main platform. Although Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old, many young children lied about their age to set up accounts.
Ms. Otway said that the company will not show ads in any Instagram products developed for children under the age of 13, and they plan to consult with health and safety experts. for children about the project. Instagram is also working on new age verification methods to make young users try to lie about their age, she said.
“The fact is that children are online,” said Ms. Otway. “They want to connect with family and friends, have fun and learn, and we want to help them do it in a safe and age-appropriate way.”