Officials from 44 states of the United States of America urged Facebook’s CEO and Instagram owner Mark Zuckerberg to abandon their plans of creating Instagram For Kids under the age of 13.
The letter written by an Attorney general to Mark stated that “The children of such a tender age cannot handle the challenges that come with social media. We desire to protect and safeguard young citizens and this platform that encourages kids to use social media is completely contrary to our belief”. The letter was signed by the attorney general of the District of Columbia and three other U.S territories.
The letter also pointed out the flaws of Instagram where everyone displays their perfect self and the fear of missing out will start very much and this can lead to mental stress and self-injuring behavior. “It is also important to understand that children of that age have not yet developed an understanding of neither privacy nor the type of content that is appropriate on social media. Besides these, they are too young to handle online relationships, and there can be predators who disguise their identity behind the internet and their actions can lead the kids in trouble and in worst cases, there can also be suicidal tendencies” the letter further added.
To strengthen their point, attorneys general also highlighted that Facebook has a poor record in protecting the privacy of their consumers. Back in 2019, Facebook’s Messenger app for kids, developed for kids between the ages of 6 -12, contained an internal flaw that allowed children to bypass restrictions on online interactions and could chat with strangers. “These continuous failures cast doubts on the company’s ability to protect children on their proposed Instagram for kids platform. Apart from their safety and FOMO, there are myriad reasons why this platform can harm our younger citizens. We urge you to abandon the plans to safeguard the well-being of our kids” the letter stated.
In Facebook’s defense, a spokesperson earlier said that “though we do not allow kids under the age of 13 to use our platform, several kids have already registered under false age and are exploring the platform. Knowing this fact, we wanted to create a much easier and kid-friendly space where parents can monitor the actions of their kids”.
The spokesman further said that they have “just started exploring a version of Instagram for kids” and said it is committed “to not showing ads in kids’ Instagram. We will develop this strictly for people under the age of 13. After verifying all our options, we aim to provide kids the best platform”.
Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General, displayed her concern stating that Instagram for kids “is a shameful attempt to exploit vulnerable people and gain profits”.
Several experts also called out Mark Zuckerberg not to create a kids version, saying it would put them at “great risk” in several ways.
After the comments made by the US officials, Facebook’s statement on the same is awaited.