FACEBOOK is “pausing” its work on a controversial Instagram Kids app.
The app was originally designed to target youngsters aged 13 or under – but has been met with significant backlash.
It follows a damning report by Facebook, which revealed that Instagram was causing harm to the body image of young girls.
‘Damaging to teens’
According to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, internal documents from Facebook show the company was aware that it was having a detrimental affect on the mental health of teen girls.
One section of the documents reportedly states: “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”
This quote was said to feature on a research slide from 2019.
Now Facebook says it is “pausing the work” on the Instagram Kids app.
“We believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, but we’re pausing the work,” said Facebook’s Adam Mosseri, who heads up Instagram.
“We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry.
“Kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older.
“While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project.
“This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.”
Body image struggles and suicidal thoughts
According to the WSJ, Facebook has been conducting deep research into the mental health impacts it has from 2019 to 2021.
Apparently, 32% of teenage girls said using Instagram made them feel worse about their body image.
Other shocking figures included that 13% of British teens and 6% of American teens reportedly said their suicidal thoughts were linked to Instagram.
One internal slide stated: “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.
“This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
US law makers are now wanting to investigate Facebook further including The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security which has launched an investigation.
The investigations come on top of Facebook facing backlash for plans to create a version of Instagram for children under 13.
Back in May, over 40 state attorneys general urged Facebook to drop its controversial ‘Instagram for Kids’ plan.
The attorneys general released an open letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg arguing that the physical and mental health of young children could be at risk if they use social media.
Concerns were raised over whether the platform will comply with existing federal children’s privacy law and whether it will be able to do enough to keep children safe.
App would be ‘BETTER’ for kids, says Insta boss
But Facebook’s Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has fired back, saying the firm hasn’t accepted defeat with this “pause”.
“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case,” Mosseri said.
“The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today.
“We’re not the only company to think so. Our peers recognized these issues and built experiences for kids.
“YouTube and TikTok have versions of their app for those under 13.”
Facebook says that it hopes only children aged 10 to 12 will use its Instagram Kids app, but doesn’t know when it will launch.
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You’re Not Alone
Every 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
- Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm
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Find out about the wildly impressive Panasonic 65HZ1000 TV, which makes most tellies look rubbish.
Read our complete guide to Call of Duty Vanguard.
And Dell’s Alienware R10 Ryzen Edition is a gaming PC powerhouse that crushes both the new consoles.
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