Facebook to launch a version of Instagram built for children under 13

In a recent internal company post, Facebook announced that it was planning to build a version of Instagram that would be safe to use for children under the age of 13.

The story was first reported by BuzzFeed News[1]. At present, people under the age of 13 are not allowed to create an account on Instagram, the Facebook-owned massively popular photo-sharing app. The company is planning to build a version of the app that will have additional safety features and parental controls that will make it safe to use for those under the age of 13.

Back in 2017, Facebook did a similar launch for their Messenger app by launching the Facebook Messenger kids app that was meant to be used by children between the ages of 6 and 12.

A spokesperson for the company said, “Increasingly kids are asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends. Right now there aren’t many options for parents, so we’re working on building additional products, that are suitable for kids, managed by parents. We’re exploring bringing a parent-controlled experience to Instagram to help kids keep up with their friends, discover new hobbies and interests, and more.”
Instagram already faces challenges with false age claims

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Earlier this week Facebook uploaded a blog post to address the problems they are facing with people lying about their age when registering for the app. In the post, the company said that they would counteract the ability for people to lie about their age with the use of machine learning. Machine learning along with the age users mention while registering will help Instagram understand a user's age. Notably, the post did not mention anything about the Instagram for kids app.

Instagram to introduce new features for child safety

The post also had information about Facebook's plans to introduce new safety features to the Instagram app. Some of these features include not allowing adults to message people that are below the age of 18 if they do not follow them. Teens will receive 'safety notices' if they get a message by an adult that is sending a large number of friend requests or messages to people that are under the age of 19. The app will also make it harder for adults to find and follow teens on the platform via the search function. The app will also encourage underage users to set their profile as private when they are registering on the platform.

Source:

1. Mar 21, R. Mac & C. Silverman, 'Instagram For Kids Under The Age Of 13', BuzzFeed News, [available online] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/facebook-instagram-for-children-under-13?bftwnews&utm_term=4ldqpgc#4ldqpgc [accessed Mar 2021]

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