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Facebook wants to build Instagram for Kids, But why are 44 Attorney Generals against it?

by Sai Vardhan

Facebook wants to build Instagram for Kids, But why are 44 Attorney Generals against it?

May 13, 2021

Facebook's recent plans to launch a platform for kids 13 hit a roadblock when The National Association of Attorneys General wrote a letter to Zuckerberg asking not to go through with it.

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is urging Facebook to ditch its plans for a version of Instagram aimed at kids aged 13 and above and expressed concerns via a letter they wrote.

What Does the Letter Say?

This letter was directed to the giant’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. In this letter, 44 Attorney Generals expressed their skepticism about the protection and well-being of children and the harm that social media might bring upon the younger demographic. 

They expressed that social media can be dangerous to the mental health and well-being of budding children who are not qualified to helm the challenges of retaining a social media account. Facebook has a history of many failed attempts to safeguard the user’s data and privacy. Now they are expressing the same for the welfare of children on the platform.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote introducing new Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram privacy features for kids.

Safe For Kids?

Based on the internal memo published in March, Facebook already started creating a new version of its app that will allow children of the age 13 and above to safely use the app for the first time, designed specifically for them. It was confirmed by the comments of Instagram head Adam Mosseri.

Many parents have already expressed concerns that kids are already online and wasting their time. Yet Facebook says they want to expand this situation by providing experiences that parents can observe and monitor. They also added that they are developing this app with experts in child development, child safety, and mental health, and privacy advocates.

Failures of Facebook

This isn’t Facebook’s first attempt to launch something for kids.

Consider the 2018 incident where Facebook was in the limelight for not being able to protect children from online harm, and Jeremy Hunt, a former Health Secretary, accused both Google and Facebook of turning a blind eye. In early 2019 Facebook launched their messenger app for kids, which was a mistake that had several flaws leading to cyber-bullying and other issues.

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Facebook explores creating a platform for users under 13

Facebook's Argument

In the latter part of the letter, NAAG questions possibilities of cyber-bullying, advertising, inappropriate content and online relations with strangers. 

Facebook says, This platform presently restricts the platform to 13-year-olds and above, which will follow a strict verification process. They also mentioned that the entire program would be personally monitored and supervised by Mosseri and new vice president Pavni Diwanji, who formerly guided and governed Google’s child-focused projects, and even YouTube Kids.

What Now?

The NAAG believes that this new platform by Facebook is not a good step in the direction of children welfare and still oppose the new application vehemently.  

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