Forty-four state attorneys general sent a letter to Facebook, urging the company to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. Noting that the AGs have an interest in protecting the country's youngest citizens, they wrote, "Facebook as historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms."
The AGs said that they were opposed to Facebook launching a kid-directed version of Instagram for three reasons.
- Social media can be harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children. The AGs wrote, "Fortunately, there are myriad other -- and safer -- ways for young children to connect with family and friends."
- Young children are not equipped to handle the range of challenges that come with having an Instagram account. They wrote, "Children do not have a developed understanding of privacy."
- Facebook has a record of failing to protect the safety and privacy of children on its platform, despite claims that its products have strict privacy controls. The AGs said that Facebook's "alarming failures 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."
Arguing that Facebook "is not responding to a need, but instead creating one," the AGs wrote that they "urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform."
As part of the announcement of the action, New York Attorney General Letitia James said, "Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm's way."
The letter was signed by the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Nebraska, Vermont, Tennessee, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
"Facebook as historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms"