A group of 40 state attorneys general urged Facebook to scrap plans to introduce an Instagram version for children under the age of 13.
The National Association of Attorneys General cited the emotional trauma that social media can cause younger children, as well as children’s failure to grasp privacy, in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The officials wrote in a letter that “use of social media can be harmful to the health and well-being of children who are not prepared to handle the difficulties of getting a social media presence.”
“Furthermore, Facebook has a history of failing to protect children’s welfare on its platforms,” they said.
“Facebook seems to be generating a need rather than reacting to one, as this platform appeals mainly to children who would not otherwise have an Instagram account. In short, an Instagram platform for children under the age of 13 is dangerous for a variety of reasons. The attorneys general are urging Facebook to scrap its plans for a new website “The letter continues.
Last month, at a congressional hearing, Zuckerberg revealed that an Instagram for children was in the works and that the app could be useful. “I think it’s generally positive to help people stay connected with friends and learn about new content online,” Zuckerberg said.
Attorneys general from the District of Columbia, New York, Texas, California, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, and Kentucky, among others, signed the letter.
A children’s Instagram, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, is “a shameful effort to manipulate and profit off innocent people.”
According to the letter, increased social media use is linked to an increase in mental health problems. It also drew attention to vulnerabilities in Facebook’s design that enabled children to override chat safety features that prevent them from communicating with strangers.
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