Disaster Looming as Facebook Plans to Unveil Instagram for kids

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Disaster Looming as Facebook Plans to Unveil Instagram for kids.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has confirmed that the Facebook-owned company plans to build a version of its uber-popular photo-sharing app targeted specifically toward children under 13. 

He said that the company is exploring a version of Instagram similar to Messenger Kids, where parents have transparency or control. 

Kids are increasingly asking their parents to 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.

Buzzfeed News first broke the news citing an internal company memo that they had obtained about Instagram for Kids coming down the line. 

Instagram’s vice president of product Vishal Shah wrote on an employee message board that they would focus on “building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to use Instagram for the first time safely.” 

So that you know, Instagram’s current policy forbids children under 13 from using the service.

According to the report, the project would be overseen by Mosseri and led by Instagram vice president Pavni Diwanji, who previously oversaw Google’s children-focused products, including YouTube Kids. 

Protections from online abuse, bullying 

The news comes just a couple of days after Instagram detailed in a post what it’s doing to make the social media platform safe for its youngest users. 

However, it didn’t mention that it was going to make a product for children under 13. 

Following public criticism of the online abuse and bullying faced by teens on the app, Instagram said that they’re adding a new feature that prevents adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them. 

“”This feature relies on our work to predict peoples’ ages using machine learning technology and the age people give us when they sign up,” the company said, amid concerns that people can lie about their age when they sign up for an account. 

“As we move to end-to-end encryption, we’re investing in features that protect the privacy and keep people safe without accessing the content of DMs,” it added. 

Is this a disaster waiting to happen?

Earlier in January, Facebook said its AI systems “proactively” catch 99 percent of child exploitation content before being reported. But Facebook has a history of privacy lapses. If you recall the Cambridge Analytica scandal, how will it preserve and protect minors and children’s sensitive private data in the future?

In 2019, a couple of years after Facebook launched Messenger Kids, a bug in the app allowed thousands of children to enter chats with strangers. It had also been secretly paying teens to install an app that tracked their phone and web activity.

According to an Internet Society report, while Internet has worked wonders for giving access to learning tools for children worldwide, connected networks haven’t done a good job of protecting children online — especially given how children online can share their data without understanding the potential long-term privacy consequences. 

In some instances, children have lost their lives because of cyberbullying, according to the report.

According to the Internet Society report, law-making and enforcement authorities are often seriously challenged to cope with emerging online techniques used to target and harm children. Hence, initiatives like Instagram for Kids need to be very careful in protecting children online as it casts a web to attract their attention.

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