Over 40 State Prosecutors Protest Mark Zuckerberg's "Instagram Kids"
The Facebook CEO faces more backlash against plans to launch an Instagram app for children.
A letter signed by 44 attorneys general on Monday warns that Instagram Kids could harm children’s mental health, as well as pose safety and privacy risks. “Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account,” the letter, addressed to Zuckerberg, reads. “Further, Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms. The attorneys general have an interest in protecting our youngest citizens, and Facebook’s plans to create a platform where kids under the age of 13 are encouraged to share content online is contrary to that interest.”
Instagram Kids is Facebook’s attempt to cater to users under the age of 13, who aren’t formally allowed to create accounts on the original Instagram app. “As every parent knows, kids are already online. We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN. Though the tech company purports that Instagram Kids would create a safer online experience for children, the attorneys general point out that younger users “may not fully appreciate what content is appropriate for them to share with others, the permanency of content they post on an online platform, and who has access to what they share online,” adding that under-13s are “simply too young to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online.”
Last month, child safety groups urged Zuckerberg to abandon plans to launch the children’s app, arguing that Instagram’s “relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding” would negatively impact the mental wellness of adolescent users. At a hearing in March, members of Congress expressed similar concerns. “I find that very concerning, targeting this particular age bracket, 13 and under, given the free services, how exactly will you be making money?” Florida GOP Congressman Gus Bilirakis questioned. “Or, are you trying to monetize our children, too, and get them addicted early?”
Today, Facebook announced that it will not show ads “in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.” In 2017, the company launched Messenger Kids, a messaging app targeted at six to 12-year-olds.