OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – It’s got hundreds of millions of users around the world, but a plan to make a version of Instagram for kids is not liked by some law enforcement officials.
State attorneys general in the Tri-State, and across the nation, are asking Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, to drop plans for a kid version of the social media service.
“An online system that targets online children that are under the age of 13, is exactly something that is contrary the interest of protecting those that are most vulnerable in our population,” said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. He, along with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, and 42 other state attorneys general signed the National Association of Attorneys General letter, asking Facebook to drop plans to start Instagram for kids.
“We’re concerned about exploitation issues that might arise,” Cameron said.
Their reasons include research showing social media can harm a child’s physical, mental and emotional well being, cyberbullying concerns and issues over Facebook’s past failures of protecting children’s safety and privacy.
Facebook set up what’s called Messenger kids app, and there was a glitch within that system, actually, that allowed complete strangers, despite parental controls, to be able to talk to an access or access children,” says Cameron.
Currently, Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old to sign up and they must prove their age.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Corey King says another concern of social media services geared to children is the potential of sexual predators reaching them.
“Now, they’re posing as a like minded teen, and start to groom this child to, at this point, be on their side. And at some point, it turns either sexual in nature, or heaven forbid, but we have seen it where they want to meet up,” he said.
In a statement to Eyewitness News, Facebook officials said, “As every parent knows, kids are already online. We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing. We are developing these experiences in consultation with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates. We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation’s attorneys general. In addition, we commit today to not showing ads in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.”
(This story was originally published on May 11, 2021)