March 20 (The Guardian) – Facebook is considering launching a version of its popular photo social media platform, Instagram, for children under the age of 13.
BuzzFeed News first reported Facebook announced in an internal company post that the company would begin building a version of Instagram for people under the age of 13 years to allow them to “safely” use Instagram for the first time. Currently the company does not allow people who are under this age to create an account on the platform.
A spokesperson for Facebook told the Guardian the company was exploring a parent-controlled version of Instagram, similar to the Messenger Kids app that is for kids between six and 12.
“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,” the spokesperson said.
“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.”
In a blog post earlier this week, which did not mention the proposed new Instagram service, the company noted that although people were asked to enter their age when signing up for Instagram, there was nothing to prevent people from lying about it at registration.
Facebook said it would overcome that by using machine learning in combination with the registration age to determine people’s ages on the platform.
The company also announced plans to roll out new safety features, including preventing adults from messaging people under the age of 18 who do not follow them, safety notices for teens when messaged by an adult sending a large amount of friend requests or messages to people under 18, and make it more difficult for adults to find and follow teens using the search function in Instagram.
Teens will also be encouraged to put their profiles on private at the point of registration.
A study of Australian teens’ internet usage published by the Australian eSafety commissioner in February found 57% of Australian teenagers use Instagram, while 30% reported being contacted by a stranger, and 20% reported being sent inappropriate unwanted content on the social media sites they used.