After Facebook announced it planned to create an “Instagram for Kids” late last week, attorney generals from 44 states and territories urged the tech company to abandon the plan, citing the negative effects social media has on children as well as Facebook’s less than stellar reputation of protecting children on its platform.
Despite stating that Facebook was committed to creating a safe platform for people under the age of 13, federal and state officials voiced their concerns that the company would be unable to protect children from the dangers of social media. The letter from the bipartisan group of attorney generals cited research that highlighted the negative effect social media has had on children’s mental health, including low self-esteem and suicidal ideation.
“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 attorney generals stated. “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.”
Additional challenges for the platform would include online privacy concerns and navigating what is appropriate for children to view or share online. The letter noted that both Facebook and Instagram reported 20 million child sexual abuse images in 2020.
The letter also stated that Facebook has “historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms” and expressed concern that it would be able to protect children moving forward. Tech-saavy users would be able to get around restrictions and the company would be unable to protect vulnerable children.
“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,” wrote the attorney generals. “In short, an Instagram platform for young children is harmful for myriad reasons. The attorney generals urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform.”
After publication, Facebook responded to the statement, stating that since children are already online, “We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing. We are developing these experiences in consultation with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates.”
As of now, Facebook is moving forward with its plan. Time will show how the platform affects its users.