NEW YORK: Facebook announced on Monday it was pausing development of the children’s version of its Instagram photo-sharing app, after widespread criticism and building worries the platform could damage young people’s mental health.

The decision to hold the iteration for children under 13 comes as Facebook grapples with fallout from a withering Wall Street Journal series revealing the social media giant’s own research showed it knew of the harm Instagram can do to teenage girls’ well-being.

Facebook’s announcement was also made just days ahead of testimony from one of its executives before US senators at a hearing they called to probe “toxic effects of Facebook and Instagram on young people”.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said that the project aimed at children, which would have created a parentally-supervised version of the app for youngsters, had been misunderstood.

“I still firmly believe that it’s a good thing to build a version of Instagram that’s designed to be safe for tweens,” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said on NBC’s Today show.

“But we want to take the time to talk to parents and researchers and safety experts and get to more consensus on how to move forward,” he added.

In a written statement he noted “it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them”. Widely referred to by the unofficial name “Instagram Kids”, the initiative has attracted criticism from various groups since reports of its development emerged earlier this year.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2021

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