Following a report Last month, as Facebook worked on a version of Instagram for kids under 13, a group of four Democratic lawmakers expressed concern about the company’s plan. In one letter signed by Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal and representatives Kathy Castor and Lori Trahan, the group asks a series of pointed and technical questions related to the project. For example, several are directing the company to detail how the two versions of Instagram will interact, including whether Facebook will allow users of the main app to see content posted by children. Other questions revolve around practical topics such as how Facebook plans to handle things when a user turns 13. Will that automatically register these teens on Instagram proper, for example?
This isn’t the first time Markey and Blumenthal have been concerned about a Facebook product aimed at children. In 2019, they wrote a letter to the company about Messenger children. This latest letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg alludes to the previous one by referring to a loophole that allowed people to invite Messenger Kids users to chats that included participants their parents had not approved. Then, as now, Senators Markey and Blumenthal say Facebook does not have the best record when it comes to protecting the privacy of its young users.
“In view of Facebook’s past failures to protect children and in light of the evidence that the use of Instagram may pose a threat to the well-being of young users, we are very concerned about this proposal,” the group wrote. . If Facebook’s goal is to prevent users under 13 from using Instagram, they suggest the company should tackle the problem directly instead of building a new platform. “The alternative approach that Facebook seems poised to take – in particular, pushing kids to sign up for a new platform that can itself pose threats to the privacy and well-being of young users – involves serious challenges and can do more harm than good. ”