Facebook is currently working to develop a version of the Instagram app for children under the age of 13, according to internal company communications, obtained by BuzzFeed. The minimum age to use the photo sharing app is currently 13.
"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," the message written by Vishal Shah, Instagram's vice president of product, and shared with colleagues on Thursday, reads.
“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.”
The new development comes days after it was announced that the company was bringing in new measures to make the app safer for teens.
A new feature prevents adults from direct messaging teenagers who don't follow them. Safety prompts will be shown to teens when they receive a DM from users over the age of 18; they will also be shown the prompts when they message adults who have been "exhibiting potentially suspicious behaviour ... For example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18".
Instagram currently has a minimum age of 13 in place. However, in an official statement it concedes, "While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth."
Teens will then be given the option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult, if they want to.
"There are cases where it is appropriate for adults and teens to interact on Instagram but it’s important that teens be protected against unwanted contact from adults," Instagram has quoted Larry Magid, chief executive of ConnectSafely.org as saying.
"Requiring that the teen – not the adult – establish the connection empowers teens to protect themselves. It puts them in the driver's seat and gives them more control over their experiences on Instagram."
Instagram has said that these changes will be rolled out in select unspecified counties in March, and will be "available everywhere soon". Instagram has confirmed that the feature is currently in place in the UAE.