Instagram for kids?
Teens love Instagram for a lot of reasons, but most importantly, that’s where their friends are. Yet, current Instagram policy forbids children under the age of 13 from using the service. This might change soon as Facebook is exploring the possibility to introduce a parent-controlled version of Instagram that allows kids to ‘safely’ use the photo sharing platform. While various laws limit how companies can build products for and target children, Facebook clearly sees kids under 13 as a viable growth segment. What should we make of this development?
A recent Guardian article claims that the social media giant noted that although people were asked to enter their age when signing up for Instagram, there was nothing to prevent people from lying about it at registration. However, this issue would be overcome by using machine learning in combination with the registration age to determine people’s ages on the platform – aka, by the utilisation of our data.
Facebook has promised to implement new safety features, including preventing adults from messaging people under the age of 18 who do not follow them. Also, there will be safety notices sent out for teens when messaged by an adult sending a large amount of friend requests or messages to people under 18, making it more difficult for adults to find and follow teens using the search function in Instagram. Moreover, teens will also be encouraged to put their profiles in private mode at the point of registration.
But to what extent can we believe the promises of big tech-companies when the core element of their existence is our data? How does this influence our online decisions regarding not only ourselves, but our kids? How should the power of media giants be regulated and by whom? What kind of change do we want and how can we contribute to this? These are only some of the questions IMPAKT’s upcoming project CODE NL-D tries to answer through a series of workshops and symposiums.