Why Facebook's plan to build Instagram for kids is raising 'many concerns'

(Image credit: DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)

Instagram executives are looking to welcome kids onto a new version of the platform — and critics have a few concerns.

Instagram is planning to build a version of the app that children under 13 would be permitted to use, BuzzFeed News reported. Instagram head Adam Mosseri confirmed the company is "exploring" this idea.

But the news raised "many concerns," wrote BuzzFeed's Ryan Mac, who pointed out that Instagram "doesn't even have a handle yet on abuse, bullying, and predation of teens" on the regular platform. The company in a blog this week outlined steps it's taking to make Instagram "safer" for young users, including looking to make it "more difficult" for adults "exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior to interact with teens."

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There's also the fact that Facebook, which owns Instagram, previously launched Messenger Kids, an app that according to The Verge had a design flaw that allowed "children to enter group chats with unapproved strangers." Facebook said that flaw only affected a small number of chats.

Priya Kumar, a researcher at the University of Maryland, also told BuzzFeed that with YouTube Kids, for example, "a lot of children" who use it have migrated over to the main YouTube platform. Kumar also argued that Instagram for kids would ultimately be a way for Facebook to normalize for children "that social connections exist to be monetized."

Swinburne University lecturer Belinda Barnett argued to the Sydney Morning Herald it's a "bad idea all round," as children under 13 are "at increased risk of predation and bullying." This isn't even to mention the potential legal issues that could arise should the app run into violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, The Verge notes.

Mosseri says there's not yet a "detailed plan" for the app, but he told BuzzFeed that "more and more kids" want to use Instagram, and so the company is exploring a version of it where "where parents have transparency or control."

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