FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Attorney General Daniel Cameron sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday urging Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, to stop the launch of a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.
The letter, signed by a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general, cites concerns about the safety and well-being of children and the potential harm that can be caused by a social media platform aimed at young children.
“We have a responsibility to protect our youngest citizens, and a version of Instagram specifically aimed at children under 13 poses significant health and safety risks for Kentucky children,” Cameron said in a release issued Monday. “We already know that child predators regularly use social media platforms to communicate with children, and we cannot give them a new opportunity to target those who are most vulnerable to exploitation.”
In the letter, the attorneys general express several concerns over Facebook’s proposal, including research that social media can be harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children. A 2017 survey found that 42 percent of young Instagram users had experienced cyberbullying on the platform, the highest percentage of any platform measured, according to the release.
The coalition also said that young children often lack a developed understanding of privacy, leaving them more vulnerable to online predators. According to the letter, Facebook and Instagram reported 20 million child sexual abuse images in 2020 alone.
The attorneys general also cast doubt on Facebook’s ability to protect children on the proposed Instagram platform and comply with relevant privacy laws such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The attorneys general said the company has a record of failing to protect the safety and privacy of children, adding that Facebook’s Messenger Kids app, intended for kids between the ages of six and 12, contained a glitch that allowed children to join group chats with strangers who were not parent-approved.