Past storms haven't fazed Facebook. Instagram Kids might
Nineteen-year-old Gigi Painter hopes Facebook’s planned “Instagram Kids” never becomes a reality.
Growing up in a small Ohio town, Painter said she and most of her friends created Instagram accounts by lying about their ages years before they turned 13.
She recalls constant pressure to post good photos that would garner lots of “likes” or positive comments. And then there was the ever-present threat of bullying on the platform. Some people at her school would create anonymous Instagram accounts where they'd upload photos of other students with mean or sexualized captions.
She isn't alone. An unlikely alliance of congressional Democrats and Republicans, along with a host of child development experts and online advocacy groups, is now pressuring Facebook to scuttle Instagram Kids, a proposed service for tweens. Their reasoning could be summarized this way: A company that cannot keep human trafficking, hate speech and the live-streaming of suicides off its platform should not be trusted with making an app for children.
“This is serious,” said Painter, who can rattle off all the social media accounts she has on her phone. “People are basing their whole view of themselves off of the feedback they get from a picture.”
Instagram, a small but beloved photo sharing app when Facebook bought it for $1 billion in 2012, is having its Facebook moment. It's not an enviable one. Damning newspaper reports based on the company's own research found that Facebook knew about the harms Instagram can cause to teenagers — especially teen girls — when it comes to mental health and body image issues.
In a swift PR offensive, Facebook tried to play down the reports — including its own research. It didn't work.
On Thursday, senators — one from each side of the aisle — called the first of...