The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to scrap plans for an “Instagram for kids.”
Facebook recently announced that it would be launching a version of Instagram for children under 13 years old, according to the letter.
The 44 signing attorneys quote experts and reference studies proving the detrimental effects of social media for youth, citing research demonstrating an association between social media use and increased mental distress, self-harm, and suicide.
They also allege that Instagram exploits young people’s desire for approval and its extreme focus on self-presentation poses issues regarding privacy, self-esteem, and wellbeing. In addition, children do not understand what is appropriate to post online, the permanency of what they post, and who has access to what they share, according to the NAAG.
A bipartisan coalition of 44 AGs urge Facebook to abandon plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids under 13. In their letter, the AGs cite concerns about the harm social media poses to children. @MassAGO @AGDougPeterson @TNattygen @VTAttorneyGenhttps://t.co/0xWjqxqVI4 pic.twitter.com/DlP5VN8Oz0
— NAAG (@NatlAssnAttysGn) May 10, 2021
“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,” letter states.
The signing attorneys reference reports from 2019 showing that Facebook’s Messenger Kids app allowed children to evade restrictions and enter chats with strangers.
Predators also often use Instagram to groom their victims, the NAAG warned.
“One report found an increase of 200% in recorded instances in the use of Instagram to target and abuse children over a six-month period in 2018,” the letter said.
In regard to cyberbullying, the NAAG cite a survey from 2017 showing that 42% of young people on Instagram had been bullied on the platform. (RELATED: Facebook Helps The FBI Catch A Child Predator, Making It The First Time They’ve Ever Helped Law Enforcement Hack A Criminal)
The attorneys concluded that “Facebook is not responding to a need, but creating one” and urged Facebook again to abandon its plans.