Non-Profits Join 44 Attorneys General Asking Facebook to Cancel Instagram Page for Kids Under 13 — Petitions Includes 180,000+ Signatures

By B.N. Frank

Experts have been issuing warnings about kids’ excessive use of screens (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and social media since long before the COVID crisis.  Unfortunately, this has not deterred tech companies from continuing to create and market products to them.

Earlier this month, 40+ state Attorneys General asked Facebook to cancel the launching of an Instagram page for kids.  Public opposition is increasing as well.

From USA Today:

180,000 sign petitions urging Facebook to scrap an Instagram for kids

More than 180,000 people have signed petitions in an ongoing outcry urging Facebook to scrap its plans for an Instagram for kids.

The signatures come from three petitions from nonprofit and grassroots organizations including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free ChildhoodSumOfUs, and a joint effort led by the Juggernaut Project. The groups collectively claim that a version of Instagram – the photo- and video-sharing app with more than 1 billion users – is unsuitable for kids under 13.

The groups said Tuesday that they plan to submit the petitions, which began in early April, to Facebook ahead of the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday. In a statement, Josh Golin, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s executive director, said the groups will not allow Instagram to use young children as “pawns in its war with TikTok” for market share.

“Teens and even adults on Instagram struggle with the never-ending focus on appearance, the relentless fear of missing out, promotion of influencer culture, and the pressure to collect likes,” Golin said. “Instagram for young children is among the greediest, most tone-deaf, and wrong-headed ideas ever to emerge from Silicon Valley.”

In response, a Facebook spokesperson said, “We’ve just started exploring a version of Instagram for kids. We agree that any experience we develop must prioritize their safety and privacy, and we will consult with experts in child development, child safety, and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform it. In addition, we will not show ads in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.”

Two months ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed plans for an Instagram for kids are in “very early stages,” during a Congressional hearing on misinformation.

Currently, Instagram doesn’t allow kids under 13 to use the platform.

The petitions come as a mounting effort to stop a potential Instagram for kids is gaining momentum. The signatures also arrive more than two weeks after 44 U.S. attorneys general sent a letter urging Zuckerberg to abandon an Instagram for kids. That letter comes after a similar letter from nearly 100 global experts and child advocates also led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and other groups demanding Zuckerberg not follow through with plans for his new Instagram initiative.

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