44 Attorneys General Ask Facebook to Ditch Instagram for Children
For a little while, Facebook has been planning to launch a version of Instagram targeted at kids under the age of 13. However, Facebook has now been encouraged to cancel these plans by US officials.
State Officials Ask Facebook to Ditch Instagram for Kids
44 attorneys general in the US have asked Facebook to ditch its plans for an Instagram for kids. The attorneys general in question all signed a letter [PDF] to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to cancel the planned kids’ app.
The primary reasons for the call to stop an Instagram for kids are in regards to safety, privacy, and mental health. Other organizations such as Congress and child safety groups have expressed similar concerns.
In the letter, the attorneys general explain that social media "can be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of children" due to online safety, privacy, and the effect it can have on mental health. Going further, the letter took a jibe at Facebook for having "historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms".
The attorneys general make it clear that their interest was to "protect younger citizens" and that Facebook’s plans are "contrary to that interest".
Current laws state that users must be at least 13 to use social media platforms. Some notable social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter have been cautioned or even fined to make sure users meet that minimum age. It’s clear that this is considered quite a serious issue.
Why Does Facebook Want to Make an Instagram for Kids?
In a statement to CNN, a Facebook spokesperson said, "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".
While nothing official has been confirmed regarding what the child-friendly Instagram might look like, we have covered the rumors regarding such an initiative.
Zuckerberg has reportedly said that he hopes the service would be able to prevent younger accounts being set up on the normal Instagram. He also made it clear that parents would have control over the service, and that Facebook commits to not showing ads to users under the age of 13.
At a previous Congressional hearing, Zuckerberg said that the plan is still "early in our thinking", so an Instagram for kids might not come just yet. He also acknowledged the fact that there are many people under the age of 13 who would like to use Instagram.
That’s not as daft as it may sound. It’s a well-known fact that many kids under the age of 13 set up social media accounts and lie about their age. Twitter had a mass culling of users that did exactly this a while back. With the intention of being more child-friendly, perhaps this is a good idea after all.
Will Facebook Go Ahead With Instagram for Kids?
Facebook has been known to stand its ground when being challenged. If setting up an Instagram for kids is a plan the social media giant wants to proceed with, then it probably will, regardless of letters sent by attorneys general, or anyone else for that matter.
While keeping children off social media has always been the goal, allowing the kids who will make an account anyway to do so safely is a massive positive.
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May 11, 2021 at 05:38AM