Forty-four state attorneys general wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to drop plans for an “Instagram Kids” for under-13s, but the social-media giant has no shame, insisting children and parents will be better off.
Better off for Facebook: which will addict kids earlier.
Parents already fret over perverted adults trolling “kid spaces” like Roblox. And regular Instagram is plagued by child predators seeking to identify and groom potential victims. Now moms and dads will have another worry.
This follows Facebook’s earlier ignoring of a global coalition of 35 child-advocacy groups and 64 experts who warned of a “great risk” to young children, and not just from perverts: They also flagged how “the platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation and branding” presents “challenges to adolescents’ privacy and well-being.”
Plus, a pack of US senators rightly noted, “Facebook has a record of failing to protect children’s privacy and safety, casting serious doubt on its ability to do so on a version of Instagram that is marketed to children.”
Since Instagram’s launch in 2010, the photo-sharing app has blocked children 12 and under from creating an account. Some kids lie about their ages to gain access, but the rule is there for good reason: Research (and a simple scroll through posts from any child with a substantial follower count) reveal countless sexually explicit comments from older men directed at minors.
No new controls can protect an even younger audience from that nightmare.
Facebook promises the new app will “give kids a more contained environment that makes it simpler and more fun for them to explore on their own, and easier for parents and caregivers to guide their journey.”
But parents are already at wits’ end policing their kids’ Internet use. And, as the AGs note, “this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account.” The kids who already lie to access Instagram won’t switch: This is just going to bring in other children — which is the real aim.
As John Mac Ghlionn wrote in The Post last month, “Facebook is in the business of creating customers for life. It’s like factory farming, but your children are the animals.”
And Facebook won’t stop unless Congress forces the issue.