Remember those rumors that Facebook was planning to create an Instagram for kids? Guess they were real as Facebook has just been urged to not create a social media platform for kids. Attorney Generals from almost 44 states and territories have all asked Facebook to reconsider making an Instagram for kids. I guess politicians can look past their differences when it comes to the safety of the younger generation.
According to internal documents leaked a few weeks ago, Facebook has been planning to create an Instagram-like service for kids under the age of 13. This has led many lawmakers to urge Facebook to reconsider, as they cited many health problems that social media could have on such young minds. This and Facebook’s bad reputation for handling children on its main platform have led many politicians to support each other on stopping Facebook.
A letter was issued to Facebook from the Association of Attorneys General. The letter was addressed to Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook. The letter cited many kinds of research on children’s mental health, it said that “In the last decade, increasing mental distress and treatment for mental health conditions among youth in North America has paralleled a steep rise in the use of smartphones and social media by children and adolescents”.
This all started when the topic emerged from lawmakers at a House hearing last March where people like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, were all present. It seems that protecting children from the bag of depression that is the internet and social media, is something both the Democrats and Republicans agree on. This will hopefully put enough pressure on Facebook to stop the project or any other tech company from making a similar project.
The letter emphasized the fact that young kids “are not equipped to handle the range of challenges that come with having an Instagram account”. These challenges may include handling jealousy, taking care of their privacy, deciding what is appropriate to see and what is appropriate to share. They also took a jab at Facebook saying that the company “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 letter also claimed that research showed that Facebook and Instagram had around 20 million child sexual abuse images that were reported in 2020. The attorney generals also noted that “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 letter concluded by saying that “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”.
A Facebook spokesperson did say that they would not show ads on Instagram for kids and that they’ll consult with experts in child development and mental health. However, the AGs want Facebook to stop the project and not assure them that something bad won’t happen because, in my experience of social media, bad stuff always happens.