The Wall Street Journal’s latest report on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and its efforts to lure young kids into social media has added fuel to the newspaper’s earlier revelations. The internet giant’s launch of Messenger Kids and the currently-halted plans to release an Instagram for the young are part of a deeper interest.
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Interest Runs Deep
As The WSJ’s investigation continues, “Inside the company, teams of employees have for years been laying plans to attract preteens that go beyond what is publicly known, spurred by fear that Facebook could lose a new generation of users critical to its future.”
The extensive child research shows how Facebook is focusing on kids as young as four years to develop better future products. The success of applications like Snapchat –Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) and TikTok has played a critical role.
A confidential report issued internally, which was also accessed by The Wall Street Journal, reads: “With the ubiquity of tablets and phones, kids are getting on the internet as young as six years old. We can’t ignore this and we have a responsibility to figure it out.”
In another document seen by the media outlet, the company takes notice of the fact that “The number of teenagers using Facebook daily has fallen 19% in the last two years and could drop an additional 45% by 2023,” The Verge reports.
The WSJ had also access to a Facebook internal presentation in which the company weighed the chance to encourage kids to use Messenger Kids in person, “Exploring playdates as a growth lever.”
Facebook’s research on kids includes a very specific categorization into six age brackets: “Adults, late teens ages 16 to maturity, teens ages 13 to 15, tweens ages 10 to 12, children ages 5 to 9, and young kids ages zero to four,” as read on a slide mentioned by The WSJ.
The most scandalous side of Facebook’s internal research is that children aged zero to four are considered for the development of new products.
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said in a statement quoted in The Journal’s report: “It’s not new and it’s not a secret that social-media companies try to understand how teens and preteens use technology.”
“Like all technology companies, of course, we want to appeal to the next generation, but that’s entirely different from the false assertion that we knowingly attempt to recruit people who aren’t old enough to use our apps.”
Facebook is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders' families.