Facebook said it will move forward with plans to launch a version of its Instagram photo app for young children despite calls from a group of more than 40 state attorneys general to drop the project.
In a bipartisan letter addressed to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the 44 attorneys general called on the social network to drop plans to launch an Instagram for under-13s, citing fears that social media is having a detrimental effect on children’s well-being .
The group also argued that Facebook has historically “failed to protect the safety and privacy of children on its platforms.”
“An Instagram platform for young children is harmful for a myriad of reasons. The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform, ”the letter said.
In a statement, Facebook said it would go ahead with the plans, but would work with lawmakers to address their concerns.
“As all parents know, kids are online all the time, whether adults like it or not. We want to improve this situation by providing experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their children are doing, ”Facebook said.
“We are developing these experiences in consultation with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates. We also look forward to working with lawmakers and regulators, including the country’s attorneys general. “
Facebook’s plans to create the new app, which Bloomberg says is known internally as Youth Instagram, met an immediate reaction from child safety advocates and politicians when they emerged in March.
In a U.S. House of Representatives hearing that month, Zuckerberg and fellow social media executives Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai barrage of accusations that their platforms are deliberately designed to quickly attract young users, track children online, and expose them to toxic content and predators.
In their letter on Monday, the attorneys general noted that Facebook’s Messenger for Kids app, launched in 2017, later contained a “significant design flaw” that allowed children to join group chats with strangers wirelessly. approval from their parents. The fault was corrected later.
Facebook argued that creating a kid-friendly version of its apps with additional parental controls would better protect young people who might otherwise be exposed to blatant content if they lie about their age to sign up for major platforms. shapes.
Facebook said on Monday that the company was “committed not to show ads in the Instagram experiences we develop for people under the age of 13.”