Internal memo reveals Instagram's concern about losing its teenage users
A year ago, Instagram was so concerned about losing teen users that it decided to spend a huge percentage of its marketing budget to reach teenagers. This report was published in The New York Times and was based on anonymous sources and internal documents. One company memo said, "If we lose the teen foothold in the U.S. we lose the pipeline."
The Wall Street Journal. The documents revealed that Facebook's own researchers discovered that Instagram is "harmful for a sizable percentage" of its young users, specifically teenage girls who can get depressed, anxious, and develop body-image issues from using the app.Facebook, which bought Instagram for a reported $1 billion back in 2012, garnered some negative media coverage earlier this month when a former product engineer named Frances Haugen leaked documents to
Starting in 2018, Facebook focused most of its ad spending for Instagram on Teens
Haugen also testified before Congress and said that the products offered by Facebook "harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy." Besides Instagram and Facebook, the latter also owns messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Instagram has competition in the teen market from Snapchat
Facebook reportedly focused its Instagram ad spending on teens
Facebook says that the media and the public are taking Facebook's internal research out of context. It says that the report actually showed that teens benefited from using Instagram. The company said that its researchers were told by teenagers that they use the app "when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced."
Starting in 2018, most of the spending earmarked for Instagram's annual worldwide marketing budget was focused on messaging directed at teens. The budget for this year is $390 million. A Facebook spokesman said, ". "While it's not true that we focus our entire marketing budget towards teens, we've said many times that teens are one of our most important communities because they spot and set early trends. It shouldn't come as a surprise that they are a part of our marketing strategy."
The Times was told by marketers that focusing on a specific age group to the extent done by Facebook is not usual. And the newspaper's report noted that Facebook also focused some of its advertising on parents and young adults.
The Instagram for Kids platform, first mentioned in March, was put on hold last month
In March, it was discovered that Facebook was developing a version of Instagram for those children under 13 who are not allowed on the Instagram site. Instagram Kids wouldn't be designed like the adult version of the app as it would be free of ads and parents would have control. The 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act restricts companies from collecting or storing personal data on anyone under 13.
Last month, half a year after the initial report about Instagram Kids leaked, Instagram announced that it was halting work on the site. Despite pausing the development of the kid-friendly version of Instagram, Facebook still believes that it "is the right thing to do." Additionally, the company said that it will continue to work on opt-in parental supervision for teens. It also wants the app to flash a "Take a Break" warning to remind users that it is time to move on to something else.
Instagram Kids would also have allowed parents to limit the amount of time their kids used the app, oversee who they were following on the app, and who was following them.
The Times says that an unnamed source told it that Facebook managers explained to workers that it is doing all that it can to prevent underage users to sign up for an Instagram account, but these kids find a way to open such an account anyway. The Instagram Kids platform would have been aimed at children 10 to 12 years of age, would have required parental permission to join, and the app would include only "age-appropriate content and features."