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The children-centric app from the Facebook-owned company was first reported by BuzzFeed News

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 19, 2021 07:09 PM
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Facebook is building a version of Instagram that will be tailored to children under the age of 13, PEOPLE confirms.

"Increasingly kids are asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends," a Facebook spokesperson tells PEOPLE. "Right now there aren't many options for parents, so we're working on building additional products — like we did with Messenger Kids — that are suitable for kids, managed by parents."

Messenger Kids debuted in late 2017 as a privacy-focused app for children, according to Tech Crunch.

To use the app, parents download it to their child's smart device, set up a profile for them and then approve whom they can interact with. The new version of Instagram seems to be built around the same considerations.

"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," Facebook says.

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Plans for the app were first uncovered by BuzzFeed News, which obtained an internal message from Instagram Vice President of Product, Vishal Shah. In the message, Shah described "youth work" as becoming a priority for the company.

"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," Shah wrote in the post, published by BuzzFeed News.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, told the outlet that the company has "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."

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The news of the new version of Instagram comes during the same week the company announced it would be adding more safety features for teens on the main app.

The company will now prevent adults from direct messaging minors if the minor doesn't already follow them and send teens notices if the adult they're interacting with has "been exhibiting suspicious behavior," such as sending "a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18."