Facebook claims such a service would give parents greater control over their children’s online activity.
“As every parent knows, kids are already online. We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business. “We are developing these experiences in consultation with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates. We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation’s attorneys general. In addition, we commit today to not showing ads in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.”
Instagram doesn’t formally allow users under the age of 13 onto the platform. But because there is not a strict age verification, some younger users have accounts. While a more safety-forward service could in theory better suit that untapped audience, the letter from the attorneys general expressed great concern around privacy, noting children “may not fully appreciate what content is appropriate for them to share with others, the permanency of content they post on an online platform, and who has access to what they share online. They are also simply too young to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online,” the letter said.
This wouldn’t be Facebook’s first time showing interest in developing a children version of one of its services. Its Messenger Kids messaging app targets users ages six to 12.