Stein, state AGs tell Facebook no ‘Instagram for children’

In this Monday, July 30, 2019 photo, the social media application, Instagram is displayed on Apple's App Store. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)

RALEIGH — Attorney General Josh Stein joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 state attorneys general to urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13, citing serious concerns about the harm that social media poses for young people.

“Launching a version of Instagram for young children is a terrible idea,” said Stein. “Facebook’s inability to stop the spread of disinformation, protect people’s personal information, and stop abuse provides no confidence that the company would be able to protect our young people online. Keeping our kids safe is job one for all of us. That’s why I oppose Facebook’s ill-considered and dangerous move to allow young children on Instagram.”

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the state AGs contend that social media is detrimental for children and that Facebook has historically failed to protect children on its platforms.

The Associated Press reported Monday that children under 13 are technically not allowed to use the Instagram app in its current form due to federal privacy regulations. But Facebook confirmed it is “exploring a parent-controlled experience” on Instagram in March.

Facebook responded that the new app would give parents more control over what children who are already online are exposed to, will make every effort to protect children, and will not show advertising on the platform.

“We are developing these experiences in consultation with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates,” the company said. “We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation’s attorneys general.”