In context: Facebook is often the subject of scrutiny from privacy organizations, its own users, government agencies, and lawmakers. Now, though, the social media giant is facing pressure from a whopping 44 state Attorneys General, who are all hoping to convince Facebook to drop its plans to launch “Instagram for kids.”
This news comes directly from New York State’s Attorney General, Letitia James. James recently made headlines for digging deep into the FCC’s controversial net neutrality repeal, and the millions of fraudulent public comments the organization received before the official vote (many of which were in favor of the repeal).
That aside, James’ latest announcement claims that allowing Facebook to launch a version of Instagram geared toward children under the age of 13 would be harmful for “myriad reasons.”
“Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” James said in a statement. “Not only is social media an influential tool that can be detrimental to children who are not of appropriate age, but this plan could place children directly in the paths of predators.”
“Not only is social media an influential tool that can be detrimental to children who are not of appropriate age, but this plan could place children directly in the paths of predators.”
If you’re wondering how exactly Instagram for kids could harm its target audience (aside from the obvious risk of exposing them to sexual predators), James lays out several key concerns.
First, she says, research indicates that social media can be harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of young children (even adults can probably attest to that on some level).
She also feels children lack the ability to understand and properly navigate online encounters, including advertisements, “inappropriate content,” and “relationships with strangers.” Further, accounts of cyberbullying are on the rise throughout Instagram, according to James, and that’s unlikely to change with Instagram for kids.
As noted before, the end goal for the 44 AGs involved in this is for Facebook to cease development on its kid-friendly Instagram variant — but it remains to be seen whether or not their combined, bipartisan voice will convince the company to change its plans.
Either way, we’ll keep you updated on the situation moving forward, and we’ll let you know if Facebook responds.