The Hot Waters of Social Media

As spectacular as technology’s rise has been so far, it also had to go through some really testing times before having its time in the sun. You would think that a creation of such transformational nature will have the entire world praising it around the clock, but that’s barely the truth. The voices of dissent against technology could be heard right from the get go. Now, if we focus on all the benefits of living in a tech-oriented world, it gets easier to refute the opinion of critics. However, it’s not such a clear-cut choice. The arguments raised by critics have all been backed up by concrete evidence, hence making us reconsider our utopian perception of technology. Even though this pushback is happening across multiple areas, the one that is constantly on the forefront in such conversations has to be social media. The controversial image of social media platforms is often shoved under the carpet mainly due to the kind of utility they have achieved in today’s time. Nevertheless, with growing pressure, the tide is officially starting to turn. All the big social media players are now getting their share of scrutiny, and the latest example of it is evident in Instagram’s latest decision.

Following some intense backlash, Instagram has officially put their plans of developing “Instagram Kids” on ice. The platform was to be designed specifically for children under the age of 13. As of now, there is no indication whatsoever regarding if or when the company will return to this idea, but Instagram’s chief, Adam Mosseri has insisted that they’ll continue to envision more intuitive parental-supervised experiences for young users.

While the idea itself didn’t impress people much, Instagram Kids’ fate was largely sealed by some sensational disclosures made by The Wall Street Journal few days ago. The Journal report claimed that Instagram’s own studies verified their app’s tendencies for making body issues worse for teenage girls. Instagram, in response, has so far labeled it as complete mischaracterization of their studies, but company’s unwillingness to release the data hasn’t helped their case a lot.

Looking back at the core concept of Instagram Kids, the intention to give a whole social media platform to the 13 years old or under kids wasn’t quite appreciated by groups who have been actively trying to educate people about the negatives of it.

The company’s real goal is to expand its lucrative and highly profitable Instagram franchise to an even younger demographic, introducing children to a powerful commercialized social media environment that poses serious threats to their privacy, health and wellbeing, said Kathryn Montgomery, a senior strategist at the Center for Digital Democracy.

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