Facebook Reportedly Building Instagram for Kids: Will It Be Safe?

Facebook in an internal meeting announced that it will build a ‘safer’ version of Instagram.

Tech and Auto
3 min read

Facebook is reportedly considering building an exclusive platform for its Instagram users under the age of 13.

According to a report by Buzzfeed, Facebook in an internal meeting announced that it will build a ‘safer’ version of Instagram which will be used by children under 13 only. Currently, the company does not allow kids under the age of 13 to use the social networking platform.

“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,” a company spokesperson told The Guardian.

However, Facebook hasn’t released any official confirmation regarding the new platform.


‘Faking Age on Instagram’

Earlier on 16 March 2021 Facebook-owned Instagram released a blog post where it mentioned that “there was nothing it can do to prevent people from lying about their age during registration”.

However, a report by The Guardian suggests that Facebook might overcome that by using machine learning tools to determine people’s age on the platform.

Sharing his thoughts on this , Cyber Security Expert Sourajeet Majumder told The Quint, “Facebook might use ‘Identity Verification Process’ where someone needs to submit a document to prove who they are, but it's time consuming as well as easy to bypass since a simple Google search gives us someone else's valid documents which one can submit during the registration process”.

The social media platform can try designing some AI and Machine Learning technology but the question is how accurate will it be when it comes to verifying someone’s age considering the fact that Facebook couldn’t implement anything like this yet.

‘Children Are Unsafe on Social Media Platforms’

Social media platforms mainly Instagram and Facebook plays a big role in shaping teen culture today.

According to a survey by American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as many as 90 percent teens (12-17-year-olds) use social media daily. While 75 percent teens have at least one active social media profile. On an average, teens are online almost nine hours a day.

With the increase in number of teens on social media platforms, mainly Facebook and Instagram, there are several risks that come with it.

Majumder informed that children share most of their personal data online. “Some of them have their personal phone numbers, school name, city, age and birth date mentioned in their bio. They also put up Instagram stories where they share their daily life experiences which is a gold mine for cyber stalkers,” he said.

“They often post pictures and use the ‘Add Location’ feature as a flex but little do they know that someone who is stalking them gets an idea of where the picture was taken or where he/she visits regularly,” he added.

Is It A Good Idea?

Several studies have found that the usage of social media platforms have been negatively affectING teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, and building unrealistic views of other people's lives.

A report by Australian teens’ internet usage by Australian eSafety commissioner found that 57 percent of teenagers use Instagram after faking their ages on the platform, while 30 percent reported being contacted by a stranger, and 20 percent reported being sent inappropriate unwanted content on the social media sites they used.

Majumder argues that having a social network at all for minors is a bad idea.

“Facebook should refrain from creating a new platform for teens and instead create a robust mechanism so that no one below 13 can sign up for Instagram. I feel there is no need for a 13 year old to have a social media account. I understand the advantages of Social Media in 2021, but I believe at a sensitive age (below 13) there are more disadvantages in using one”
Sourajeet Maumder, Cyber Security Expert

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