It seems that Mark Zuckerberg's plans to create an Instagram version aimed at children have failed. An international coalition of 35 consumer groups took to Instagram on Thursday to cancel plans to develop a version of the popular app for users under 13.
Instagram had decided to create a separate app for children, after years of complaints from lawmakers and parents that the platform could not detect underage users in a timely manner and protect them from online predators and cyberbullying.
However letter sent to Mark Zuckerberg, his CEO Facebook and Instagram owner, one of the non-profit groups, warns that the children's version will not alleviate such problems. While 10- to 12-year-olds who already have Instagram accounts are unlikely to turn to a "childish" version of the app, the teams also said they could even put younger children in a vicious circle of fake role models. away from more natural activities for their age.
«While collecting valuable family data and cultivating a new generation of Instagram users can be a good thing for Facebook", Said the teams, led by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston, in the letter to Mr Zuckerberg, "will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform's manipulative and exploitative capabilities.»
Other members of the coalition include the Africa Digital Rights' Hub in Ghana, the Australian Council on Children and the Media, the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, the Common Sense Media in San Francisco, the Consumer Federation of America and the 5Rights Foundation in Britain.
Η Stephanie Otway, a spokesman for Facebook, said Instagram was in the early stages of developing a child service as part of an effort to keep people under the age of 13 away from its main platform. Although Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old, many younger children have lied about their age to create accounts.
According to Otway, the company does not intend to display ads on any Instagram product developed for children under the age of 13 and that it planned to consult child health and safety experts about the project. Instagram is also working on new age-verification methods to identify younger users who are trying to lie about their age.