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Attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon launch of Instagram Kids

Coalition sends letter expressing serious concerns over safety and well-being of children
(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)(Jenny Kane | AP)
Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 4:12 PM CDT
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(KSNB) - On Monday, Attorney General Doug Peterson joined in co-leading a letter along with the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Vermont.

The letter cites serious concerns about the safety and well-being of children and the harm social media poses to young people and contends that Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms.

The coalition of 44 attorneys general is urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.

“The business model of almost all social media platforms is to get the user to be engaged on the screen for as long as possible. This allows companies like Instagram to accumulate extensive personal data on every user to be sold to advertisers. The fact that they now want to focus on collecting the data of children is very troubling,” stated AG Peterson.

In their letter, the attorneys general express various concerns over Facebook’s proposal, including research that, in addition to social media harms to the well-being of children; rapidly worsening concerns about cyberbullying on Instagram; use of the platform by predators to target children; Facebook’s checkered record in protecting the welfare of children on its platforms; and children’s lack of capacity to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online, including advertising, inappropriate content, and relationships with strangers.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline is the nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children, including child sexual abuse material, child sex trafficking, and online enticement. They noted in 2020, Facebook and Instagram reported 20 million child sexual abuse images.

The attorneys general also 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 (COPPA).

In addition to the co-leading states, the letter is joined by the attorneys general of 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.

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