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Facebook halts plans for ‘Instagram Kids’ app after criticism

Washington [US] : Facebook is pausing the development of Instagram Kids, a version of the photo-sharing application for children under 13.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri announced the news in a blog post, saying that the Facebook-owned company would continue to work on parental-supervised experiences for younger users, reported The Verge. In the blog post and series of accompanying tweets, Mosseri blamed the critics for misunderstanding the purpose of the app.

“It was never meant for younger kids, but for tweens (aged 10-12),” he wrote. In a separate tweet, he added that news of the project “leaked way before we knew what it would be. People feared the worst, and we had few answers at that stage. It’s clear we need to take more time on this.”

Pausing work on the app comes after a leading publication posted a series of damning reports into Facebook last week.

These included a story revealing how Instagram’s own internal research suggested that the app made body issues worse for teenage girls. Facebook said these reports mischaracterised the company’s studies, but it has so far refused to release its data firsthand for critics and supporters alike to analyse.

The development of a version of Instagram aimed at younger users was widely criticised by a number of groups.

Facebook responded to this criticism by saying young people were already active online and it was better that their experience be supervised. The company also said it wouldn’t show advertising on the new app. However, critics were not convinced.

As per Variety, critics included more than 40 state attorneys general who urged Facebook to kill the project, raising red flags including research showing social media can be harmful to the emotional and mental well-being of children.