State AGs to Facebook: Ditch 'Harmful' Instagram for Kids

Dozens of attorneys general want social media giant to abandon its idea of an 'Instagram for kids'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2021 7:10 AM CDT
Dozens of State AGs Oppose 'Instagram for Kids' Plan
In this Nov. 29, 2018, file photo, the Instagram app logo is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Facebook is currently working on an "Instagram for kids" that would allow children under 13 to use the platform, but there's already pushback from multiple corners. The latest resistance: a Monday letter from the National Association of Attorneys General, representing bipartisan AGs from 44 US states and territories who aren't keen on the idea. "It appears that Facebook is not responding to a need, but instead creating one, as this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account," the AGs note in the letter, saying such a juvenile-targeted platform would be "harmful for myriad reasons," per TechCrunch. Among those concerns listed by the AGs: fears of cyberbullying, predators finding a way to contact children, and the fact that using social media may adversely affect kids' physical and mental health, as research suggests. "The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform," the letter implores.

The AGs note that younger kids aren't yet mature enough to handle potential contact from strangers, or being bombarded by ads or other content they shouldn't see, and that Facebook's "checkered record" on looking after kids on its platforms gives them pause. This isn't the first letter Facebook has received on this matter: Last month, Democratic lawmakers wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg citing their own "serious concerns" on child privacy in this model, per TechCrunch. Facebook insists it's up to the task of keeping kids safe, with spokesman Andy Stone noting that children are already online and that the company wouldn't present any ads on the kids version of Insta. "We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing," Stone says in a statement, per the Washington Post. The company says it has worked on the new plan in consultation with experts in children's mental health, privacy, and safety. (Read more Instagram stories.)

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