Explaining the Research We Do to Support Families

  • As the Journal reported four years ago, Facebook introduced Messenger Kids — and just like others in this space, we are interested in understanding the next generation. 
  • It’s been previously reported that Facebook believes parents should have safer and age-appropriate options for their children — and that we conduct research to make sure our products are as safe as possible. 
  • Kids under 13 are prohibited on Instagram and Facebook; and our systems remove these accounts when we find them, 600,000 on Instagram in the last three months alone.
  • The Journal cites an internal slide with age breakdowns without noting that the same age taxonomy is used by the Age Appropriate Design Code and policymakers to understand how to appropriately design products for youths.

Today, the Wall Street Journal again questioned our motives in carrying out research into young people’s social media use. This is nothing more than an attempt to recycle previous reporting. As the Journal itself reported four years ago, we’ve had a product in the market in the form of Messenger Kids that is intended for younger users. We developed it with input from parents to make sure that it provides a safer experience for younger kids that is supervised and controlled by parents. There is nothing nefarious or secretive about this work.    

The article featured an image of an internal slide that is attention grabbing because it’s presented with no context; in actuality, it’s simply a framework that international policymakers have been advocating we use. These are age bands used by the Age Appropriate Design Code and other policy experts. The “where we’re going” title reflects industry and policymakers’ move toward this taxonomy, not Facebook’s product plans, as the internal note’s context makes clear.

Companies that operate in a highly competitive space — including the Wall Street Journal — make efforts to appeal to younger generations. Considering that our competitors are doing the same thing, it would actually be newsworthy if Facebook didn’t do this work. The Journal also lifts a phrase from an internal presentation titled, “Exploring playdates as a growth lever.” Unfortunately the language we used was an insensitive way to pose a serious question and doesn’t reflect our approach to building the app. It was part of research to better understand how families and kids were using the Messenger Kids app to improve their experiences with it. We built Messenger Kids to create a safer, parent-managed experience for kids. And as we have heard from parents worldwide, virtual playdates on Messenger Kids have become a lifeline for many families during the pandemic.

We want to keep young people safe on our apps, and that includes making sure that those who aren’t old enough to be using them, don’t. We’ll continue investing in research to make sure that we do this work even more effectively. 

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