WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Forty-four US attorneys general urge Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to abandon plans to build a new version of Instagram’s photo-sharing network for young children in privacy.
“The use of social media can adversely affect the health and well-being of children who are unable to cope with the challenges of having a social media account,” the bipartisan group of attorneys general wrote in a letter dated Monday (May ) 10).
“Facebook has failed to protect the well-being of children on its platforms in the past.”
Facebook said in a statement that it will prioritize security, privacy, and working with regulators and experts in building the service. The company has also undertaken not to place any advertising on the youth platform.
“We agree that any experience we develop must prioritize its safety and privacy, and we will consult with child development, child safety and mental health experts and privacy advocates to provide information,” the company said.
The letter intensifies public opposition to the social media giant’s plan to build an Instagram platform for children under the age of 13, who are currently banned from using the company’s regular platforms.
During a Congressional hearing in March, US lawmakers questioned Mr. Zuckerberg about the project and urged him to see his company do more to protect children. Child welfare and privacy advocates have said the new app could lead to depression, loneliness and anxiety among young users.
Facebook is still in the early stages of building the app. Executives said the company intends to give teenagers access to most of the features now on Instagram, but with parental control and visibility.
The California-based company argues that many children under the age of 13 are already using Instagram, and executives say the service will offer them an alternative to lying about their age.
Facebook hasn’t yet offered a timeline or finalized features for what has been internally dubbed Instagram Youth.
Previously, Facebook had launched Messenger Kids, a version of the company’s messaging app that allows parents to monitor their children’s communications and connections and set time limits.