Facebook Plans Instagram for Kids; 44 Attorneys General Urge Against It

Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2021 at 3:08 pm    

Facebook has long been under fire for not doing enough to protect children on its platforms. Although Instagram’s policy does not allow children under 13, many children still ignore this rule. Now, Facebook has decided that the solution to this problem is to create a version of Facebook for children only. Instead of focusing their efforts on stricter protections against children using Instagram, the company wishes to use children as a viable growth option, considering its popularity among young teens.

Child advocates are asking Facebook to abandon these plans due to the clear and present danger to children. In 2017 a report found that 42 percent of young adults between the ages of 12 to 20 had experienced cyberbullying on Instagram. Even more pressing is the risk of grooming and sexual exploitation. Figures from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) show a 31% increase in the number of images of child sexual abuse reported to them in 2020, with at least 13 million images hosted on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has historically refused to accept responsibility for consequences suffered by its users. Sex trafficking is rampant on both Facebook and Instagram. One 14-year-old victim was contacted by a man on Instagram who proceeded to rape her and advertise her as a prostitute on her Instagram profile. Even after she was rescued from the operation, her profile continued to be used to attract other young victims. The victim’s mother reported all of this to Facebook who did not respond to the incident.

Now, 44 attorneys general have written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to abandon his plans. “Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “This plan could place children directly in the paths of predators. There are too many concerns to let Facebook move forward with this ill-conceived idea, which is why we are calling on the company to abandon its launch of Instagram Kids. We must continue to ensure the health and wellness of our next generation and beyond.”

Hopefully Facebook will heed the urging of child advocates and put a stop to these dangerous plans. If a child in your life was groomed or sexually trafficked on Facebook or Instagram, know that you have an opportunity to bring charges against this abuser. Contact the compassionate and skilled online sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. We are available 24/7 to take your call at (212) 779-0057.

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