Facebook has made it one of its priorities to build a version of Instagram for users under 13, according to an internal company post obtained by BuzzFeed News. Vishal Shah, Instagram’s VP of product, reportedly wrote a post on the employee message board announcing the project. The post also said that the project will be overseen by Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, and will be led by Facebook VP Pavni Diwanji who worked on YouTube Kids and other children-focused products when she was still with Google.
Shah’s post reads:
“I’m excited to announce that going forward, we have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and have added it to our H1 priority list. 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.”
This revelation comes a few days after Instagram announced new features to protect teens on its platform. Children under 13 officially can’t use the app under COPPA rules, but that hasn’t stopped some from using fake birthdays to dupe the platform’s age check procedure. Instagram knows that young users can lie about their dates of birth, which is why it’s developing artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to help protect minors.
For instance, adults can’t DM users under 18 who don’t follow them anymore. The platform implements that particular restriction by looking at the user’s claimed age and using machine learning that predicts people’s ages. It will also make it more difficult for adults to find teens in the first place by removing teen accounts from “Suggested Users,” Reels and Explore, as well as hiding adult users’ comments on public posts by teenagers.
It’s still unclear what an Instagram for kids would look like, but it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise that Facebook has thought of building the product, seeing as there’s a Messenger app for children. Mosseri told BuzzFeed News that the company knows “more and more kids” want to use the app. He said: “We have to do a lot here, but part of the solution is to create a version of Instagram for young people or kids where parents have transparency or control. It’s one of the things we’re exploring.” Mosseri said the project is still in its early stages though, and Instagram doesn’t have a detailed plan yet.