A bipartisan group of 45 attorneys general are urging Facebook to abandon plans to launch an Instagram for kids platform, citing concerns about children’s mental health and data privacy risks.
"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. 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," the National Association of Attorneys General wrote in a letter Monday to Facebook.
Facebook’s plans about creating a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13 were first reported by BuzzFeed News in March, and the company has faced pushback from advocacy groups and lawmakers since.
A Facebook company spokesperson said the company will consult with "experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates" as Facebook continues to explore a version of Instagram for kids.
“As every parent knows, kids are already online. We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation’s attorneys general,” the spokesperson added.
The spokesperson also noted Facebook's commitment to not show any ads on any Instagram experience it develops for people under 13.
The attorneys general highlighted research about detrimental mental health impacts of social media use on young users, and called out “alarming rates of cyberbullying” among children.
The attorneys general also noted concerns that children “do not have a developed understanding of privacy.”
“Specifically, they may not fully appreciate what content is appropriate for them to share with others, the permanency of content they post on an online platform, and who has access to what they share online. They are also simply too young to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online, including inappropriate content and online relationships where other users, including predators, can cloak their identities using the anonymity of the internet,” they wrote.
The attorneys general are the latest in a line of officials to highlight concerns over the plan for the Instagram for kids plans.
A group of Democrats in April pressed Facebook on the plans over the company’s “past failures” to protect kids on platforms aimed at youth users.
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee also pressed Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergBig Tech should pay for damaging mental health The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - House Democrats plagued by Biden agenda troubles Webb: Big Tech won't change; the tech sector can MORE, as well as Google CEO Sundar Pichai, on policies regarding children using their platform during a recent hearing.
Last month a group of roughly 100 advocacy organizations and experts sent a letter to Facebook also urging Facebook to scrap plans for the Instagram for kids platform.
— Updated 1:22 p.m.