May 10th, 2021
City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford has joined a coalition
of 44 attorneys general urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a
version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. In their letter to
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the attorneys general cite serious concerns about
the safety and well-being of children and the harm social media poses to young
attorneys general also explain how social media can be detrimental to children
for many reasons, and that Facebook has historically failed to protect the
welfare of children on its platforms.
“While social media can be fun and entertaining, it
can also pose many risks, especially to young children who do not recognize
those risks or understand how to protect themselves,” said AG Ford. “Parents,
my office is looking out for you. Have conversations with your children and
youth about posting personal information on social media. Talk about the risks
of associating with people they don’t know. While we continue to protect our
children and youth, it’s critical for you to continue to have these
conversations with your family.”
their letter, the attorneys general express various concerns over Facebook’s
Research that social
media can be harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of
concerns about cyberbullying on Instagram; use of the platform by predators to
record in protecting the welfare of children on its platforms; and
Children’s lack of
capacity to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online, including
advertising, inappropriate content and relationships with strangers.
a Congressional hearing in March, Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that social
media is harmful to children, despite strong data and research that has shown a
link between young people’s use of social media and an increase in mental
distress, self-injurious behavior, and suicide. Instagram has been frequently
flagged for increasing suicidal ideation, depression, and body image concerns
the attorneys general argue, young children are not equipped to handle the many
challenges that come with having an Instagram account, including that they
often lack a developed understanding of privacy. There is also a risk that
predators may exploit children online and cloak their identities using the
anonymity of the Internet. One report found an increase of 200 percent in
recorded instances in the use of Instagram to target and abuse children over a
six-month period in 2018. In 2020 alone, Facebook and Instagram reported 20
million child sexual abuse images.
is also a major concern, and a 2017 survey found that 42% of young Instagram
users had experienced cyberbullying on the platform, the highest percentage of
any platform measured. As children spend more time online during the COVID-19
pandemic, these issues have become a bigger problem.
attorneys general also cast doubt on Facebook’s ability to protect children on
their 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.
For instance, Facebook’s Messenger Kids app contained a glitch that allowed
children to circumvent restrictions and join group chats with strangers.
In addition to Nevada, other attorneys general
participating in this letter include: Alaska, California, Connecticut,
Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico,
New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas,
Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
A copy of the letter is attached.