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Monday, May 10, 2021

Kentucky Attorney General among 44 AGs Nationwide Asking Facebook to Halt Launch of Instagram Kids

Joins coalition of 44 Attorneys General in letter stating new version of Instagram presents safety concerns for children

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Attorney General Daniel Cameron today sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg 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 serious 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.

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“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,” said Attorney General Cameron.  “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.

The coalition also states that young children often lack a developed understanding of privacy, leaving them more vulnerable to online predators. These perpetrators often leverage social media to form a web of connections and target multiple victims at the same time.  In 2020 alone, Facebook and Instagram reported 20 million child sexual abuse images. 

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 (COPPA). They point out that the company has a record of failing to protect the safety and privacy of children. 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.

Attorney General Cameron joined the letter, co-led by Massachusetts, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Vermont, and co-signed by the attorneys general of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

To view a copy of the letter, click here

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