State Prosecutors Add to Warnings About Instagram's Child-Safety Plans
By Matt Grossman
Attorneys general from 44 states and territories urged Facebook
Inc. to abandon plans to launch a version of Instagram for
children, citing behavioral and privacy concerns about social
media's effects on young people
In a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on
Monday, the officials said that research has painted a grim picture
of children's social-media use, referencing links to mental-health
problems and bullying.
The letter adds bipartisan weight to pressure that Facebook has
faced over its plans for an under-13 Instagram version since March,
when Mr. Zuckerberg spoke about the concept in a congressional
hearing. In April, Democratic members of Congress also sent Mr.
Zuckerberg a letter criticizing the plan.
A Facebook spokesman said Monday that the company will work with
regulators and lawmakers as its plans for the Instagram children's
"We agree that any experience we develop must prioritize
[children's] safety and privacy, and we will consult with experts
in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy
advocates to inform it," the spokesman said.
Facebook now prohibits children under the age of 13 from joining
its apps and websites, but Mr. Zuckerberg has acknowledged that
many children join by lying about their age.
The attorneys-general group, which included Texas's, New York's
and California's top prosecutors, warned that social media promotes
a preoccupation with personal appearance and social status in
"Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and
well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the
challenges of having a social media account," they wrote.
Mr. Zuckerberg said in March that, used with supervision, social
media can help young people maintain connections with friends. In
their letter, the attorneys general rejected that argument,
writing, "There are myriad other -- and safer -- ways for young
children to connect with family and friends."
The Facebook spokesman said that the Instagram children's
platform is still in the early stages of planning. Adam Mosseri,
head of Instagram, told The Wall Street Journal last month that the
children's platform would likely give parents tools to monitor
children's activity rather than filter the content they can see.
The company has also said the version would be free of
"The product has to be compelling enough that it's not going to
give people a reason to lie about their age," Mr. Mosseri said.
Write to Matt Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 10, 2021 12:18 ET (16:18 GMT)
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