MENLO PARK, California. (AP) – Facebook says it is working on a version of its Instagram app designed for children under the age of 13 who are not technically allowed to use the app in its current form due to federal privacy regulations.
The company confirmed an earlier Buzzfeed News report on Friday, saying it was “exploring parent-controlled experiences” on Instagram.
The move came just a day after Facebook announced a series of new teen security measures on Instagram. But that statement does not mention an Instagram build program for kids.
Critics were quick to point out that child-friendly Instagram was just a way for Facebook to expand its user base, to get kids to use its products so that it could make money from them in the future.
“Facebook is one of the biggest threats when it comes to child privacy,” said Rasha Abdul-Rahim, co-chair of Amnesty Tech, a non-profit organization. “Increasing online guarantees for children is a priority, but the fact remains that Facebook will collect children’s data to benefit from their detailed profiles.”
Facebook launched the Messenger Kids app in 2017, viewing it as a way for parents and family to chat with friends. It does not give children separate Facebook or Messenger accounts. Instead, the program works as a parent account extension, և Parents receive control over who they can talk to with their children. But many child development experts have urged the company to pull it off, saying children do not need to be on social media.
“More and more children are asking their parents if they can join programs that help them stay with their friends,” Facebook said in a statement. “There are not many parenting options at the moment, so we are working on creating additional products, as we did with Messenger Kids, that are suitable for parent-led children.”
When it launched Messenger Kids, Facebook said it would not display ads or collect data for kids to market.