Dozens of attorneys general called for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to drop his plans to create an Instagram for children under the age of 13.
According to the letter sent to the social media platform, 44 lawyers are all on the same page about kids under 13 being on Instagram. The letter was sent on Monday by attorney generals from 44 states and territories, who said making an Instagram for children under the age of 13 would negatively affect children’s mental and emotional health, especially since Instagram has reportedly already struggled to protect children on the platform before.
The conversation first started back in March when Zuckerberg, Google CEP Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met for a House hearing to discuss misinformation spread online via social media. According to BuzzFeed News, Facebook began thinking of a possible under 13-available Facebook based on documents the new outlet obtained.
In their letter to Zuckerberg, the attorneys detailed news reports and research showing social media’s impact on children is harmful to their confidence and mental and emotional health. It added that social media has led to the suicides and deaths of some children. According to CNBC, the attorneys general also said young kids “are not equipped to handle the range of challenges that come with having an Instagram account.”
In addition, the attorneys pulled facts about how Facebook and Instagram reported 20 million child sexual abuse images in 2020. They went on to say that Facebook has a history of targeting children with certain products, adding it “has a record of failing to protect the safety and privacy of children on its platform, despite claims that its products have strict privacy controls.” The attorneys also highlighted a “mistake” in IG’s algorithm that sent diet-related content to users with eating disorders.
“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 wrote. “In short, an Instagram platform for young children is harmful for myriad reasons. The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform.”