Is Facebook Developing an Instagram for Kids?
Posted on 03/24/2021 at 03:58 PM
Instagram Leadership Considering Privacy and Safety Concerns for Younger Users
On March 18th, BuzzFeed News reported that Instagram may be planning on expanding its market to children under thirteen. Dialogue taken from an internal company post suggests that user safety may be a leading factor in the decision to move forward with development. On March 16th, just days before the internal post was shared, Instagram published a blog highlighting new safety features.
Regarding children under thirteen (currently prohibited from creating an account), Instagram wrote, “we know that young people can lie about their date of birth.” To keep the platform safe, Instagram is planning on a two-step approach: using machine learning to verify user age at the time of registration and redirecting underage users to a designated age-appropriate platform.
Responding to the BuzzFeed News article, Adam Mosseri (head of Instagram) tweeted:
Kids are increasingly asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends. A version of Instagram where parents have control, like we did w/ Messenger Kids, is something we’re exploring. We’ll share more down the road.— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) March 18, 2021
The internal message shared with BuzzFeed News was from Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product. The message reads: “We will be building a new youth pillar within the Community Product Group to focus on two things: (a) accelerating our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens and (b) building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time.”
Facebook Reflects on Options for Parents
In an email to Vox Media, Facebook Representative Joe Osborn wrote, “Right now, there aren't many options for parents, so we're working on building additional products- like we did with Messenger Kids- that are suitable for kids, managed by parents. 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."
Despite these claims from Facebook, Instagram has not made an official product announcement regarding an upcoming platform for children under thirteen. Unlike most social media platforms, apps designed for children are subject to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The act exists to regulate the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information regarding users younger than thirteen. According to the FTC’s COPPA Compliance Guide, online services include:
Social networking activities
Purchasing goods or services online, including in-app purchases
Platforms sharing online content
Internet-connected mobile apps
Internet-connected toys and gaming platforms
Smart speakers and voice assistants
Voice-over-Internet protocol services
Internet-enabled location-based services
With careful consideration for how data is collected from children, understanding how to comply with COPPA is a vital part of the application design process. General data protection regulation must also be a key consideration for social media marketers as well as website developers.
For many children growing up in the digital age, learning to use smart devices and connect with friends online is as fundamental as learning to ride a bike or pick out their own clothes. Unfortunately, many online service providers have low barriers for children to disclose personal information, and high barriers for parents to understand privacy policies.
The Common Sense Privacy Program gave Messenger Kids a 68% overall score, earning the kids app a 'Warning' rating. The program evaluates privacy policies based on several criteria, each graded out of 100%. Some notable areas of concern for Messenger Kids include Ads and Tracking (20%), Data Sold (35%), and Data Security (40%). In contrast, Messenger Kids scored well in Data Safety (90%) and Data Rights (95%).
The Role of GDPR Standards in Protecting Your Privacy
Global Reach proudly complies with the stricter GDPR standards, which exist to provide consumers with control over the collection, storage, and use of their personal data. With tightening concerns about privacy and security, brands need to be sure that those who visit their website or utilize their online services are protected.
When it comes to data protection, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. For companies looking to build and maintain trust with their customers, getting your website GDPR compliant is a huge step in the right direction and Global Reach can get you there.
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