State Prosecutors Warn Against Facebook's Plan to Create Instagram for Children -- Update
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 lawmakers also sent Mr. Zuckerberg a
letter criticizing the plan.
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.
A Facebook spokesman said Monday that the company would work
with regulators and lawmakers as its plans for the Instagram
children's version evolve. The company hasn't said when it would
launch the service.
"As every parent knows, kids are already online," the spokesman
said. "We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences
that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are
The group of attorneys general, which includes the top
prosecutors from Texas, New York and California, warned that social
media promotes a preoccupation with personal appearance and social
status in children.
"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.
During a congressional hearing, he said his own children use
Messenger Kids, a service the company launched a few years ago to
enable youth under age 13 to chat or video call with contacts
approved by their parents.
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."
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, told The Wall Street Journal
last month that the children's platform was in the early stages of
planning and 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 advertisements.
"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 14:59 ET (18:59 GMT)
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