Facebook, Inc. is looking to get younger users on its Instagram application with a restricted version of the social network that can be managed by adults.
The company has a team building Instagram intended for children aged younger than 13. To use Instagram now account holders must be aged 13 years or older, according to the app's terms of service. News of the project was first reported by BuzzFeed News.
A Facebook representative confirmed the initiative. "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," company representative Joe Osborne said.
Instagram published a blog post this week describing its work to make the application safe for its youngest users - but made no mention of the version for children under 13 at that time.
In 2017, Facebook released the Messenger Kids application for children aged 13 and younger - and the product quickly angered user privacy advocates. The Verge reported in 2019 that a flaw in Messenger Kids allowed children to join groups with strangers. Facebook said at the time the glitch affected only a "small number of group chats."
The social media company is in the early stages of its Instagram-for-children. The application will be subject to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that prohibits internet services from extracting data from children younger than 13.
Instagram's this week released new features and resources - including a new parents guide for the U.S. developed in collaboration with the Child Mind Institute and ConnectSafely as well as versions for other countries developed with local experts.
Targeting internet products to children aged 13 and younger raises not only safety questions but legal concerns, too. The Federal Trade Commission fined Google $170 million in September 2019 for monitoring children's viewing histories in order to display advertisements to them on YouTube, a breach of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
In February 2019, TikTok precursor Musical.ly was fined $5.7 million for violations of the act.