State AGs Warn Facebook Against Kids Instagram

Facebook sign at HQ
(Image credit: Facebook)

The majority of state attorneys general have called on Facebook to abandon plans to create a children's (under 13) version of Instagram.

That came in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from a coalition of 44 state AGs.

Also Read: Hill Dems: Instagram for Kids May do More Harm Than Good

They argue that social media in general can be detrimental to children for a number of reasons and that Facebook in particular has a history of failing to protect kids on its platforms.

“Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” said New York AG Letitia James. 

There was an implied threat in the AG move. "There are too many concerns to let Facebook move forward with this ill-conceived idea," said James.

Among the issues the letter addresses are 1) research on the harms of social media to children's physical, emotional and mental health; 2) an increase in cyberbullying on Instagram; the use of Instagram by child predators; 3) and children's inability to navigate complex online encounters.

They pointed out that at a Hill hearing, Zuckerberg "dismissed" the idea social media was harmful to kids.

They argue that Facebook has failed in multiple ways to protect kids and as a reault has "cast doubt on Facebook’s ability to protect children on their proposed Instagram platform and comply with relevant privacy laws such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act."

Also Read: Sens. Cassidy, Markey Introduce Update to Online Child Protection Law

AGs signing on to the letter were from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.