Outrage over WhatsApp’s ‘extremely irresponsible’ choice because it ‘places earnings first’ | UK | News | EUROtoday

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Social media large WhatsApp has triggered a wave of shock after it introduced it was lowering its minimal age of use by three years from 16 to 13.

The messaging firm, owned by Meta, introduced the change earlier this week.

In response, baby security teams and different specialists have urged Meta – which additionally owns Facebook and Instagram – to reverse the change over considerations for youngsters’s welfare.

Statistics counsel WhatsApp is the second hottest social media platform for youngsters with over 55 % of three- to 17-year-olds considered utilizing it, in keeping with Ofcom.

Campaign group Smartphone Free Childhood is among the teams calling for Meta to reverse the choice.

Speaking to the Times, co-founder of Smartphone Free Childhood Daisy Greenwood described the transfer as “tone deaf” and one which was “putting shareholder profits first”.

Ms Greenwood added that it “ignores the increasingly loud alarm bells being rung by scientists, doctors, teachers, child safety experts, parents and mental health experts alike”.

The co-founder additionally defined that WhatsApp “works like a gateway drug for the rest of the social media apps. If you’re messaging your friends on WhatsApp, why not message them on Snapchat?”.

She additionally mentioned that whereas WhatsApp can generally be seen as only a messaging platform in some circumstances it was a lot extra and one the place kids have been uncovered to “extreme content”.

Conservative member of the training choose committee Vicky Ford echoed requires a reversal of the choice. She mentioned: “Social media can be very damaging for young people. WhatsApp, because it’s end-to-end encrypted, is potentially even more dangerous, as illegal content cannot be easily removed.

“So for Meta to unilaterally decide to reduce the age recommendation for WhatsApp, without listening to affected parents, seems to me to be highly irresponsible.”

The choice by Meta to alter its guidelines on WhatsApp comes practically 4 years after a examine of 9 to 17-year-olds discovered that over half – 56 % – skilled victimisation or bullying of their teams on the messaging app.

Fellow tutorial Dr Katilyn Regehr from University College London highlighted how the content material inside closed teams can generally be worse than it’s on platforms the place everybody can see the posts.