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Attorneys general tell Mark Zuckerberg that Instagram isn’t for kids

In a letter Monday, 44 state’s attorneys general — including Utah AG Sean Reyes — told Facebook it ‘has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms’

In a letter Monday, 44 state’s attorneys general — including Utah AG Sean Reyes — told Facebook it “has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms.”
Photo Illustration by Alex Cochran

A large, bipartisan group of state attorneys general have urged Facebook to abandon its plan to launch an Instagram page designed for kids.

Forty-four attorneys general sent a six-page letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, telling the social media giant that a new, child-centric Instagram app “could harm kids’ mental health and compromise their privacy,” Bloomberg reported.

  • “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. Further, Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms,” the letter reads.
  • “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,” the attorneys general wrote.

The letter is signed by a broad coalition of state’s leading law enforcements, from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Utah’s own Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Instagram for kids? It’s complicated, Facebook says

In March, Zuckerberg said at a congressional hearing that Facebook was developing an under-13 Instagram platform for kids, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Facebook — which owns the popular image sharing app Instagram — has said it would “prioritize safety, privacy and working with regulators and experts as it builds out the service” and would not show advertisements to kids,” reported Bloomberg.

  • “As every parent knows, kids are already online,” said a Facebook spokesman, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing.”
  • The Instagram app for kids is still being developed, while Facebook officials have said the app would “give preteens access to most of the same features now offered on Instagram, but with parental control and visibility,” Bloomberg reported.

Lawmakers and child advocates against Instagram for kids

American lawmakers and child advocacy organizations around the world have pressed Facebook to not develop a kids version of Instagram.

  • “Facebook has an obligation to ensure that any new platforms or projects targeting children put those users’ welfare first, and we are skeptical that Facebook is prepared to fulfill this obligation,” wrote a group of Congressional Democrats to Zuckerberg in April, according to TechCrunch.
  • “The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and well-being,” said nearly 100 global child advocacy groups and individuals in similar letter they sent to Facebook in April, Voice of America reported.