Rolling out a new version of Instagram for kids is a very, very bad idea, child safety advocates are telling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, a non-profit organization, has coordinated a letter to Zuckerberg signed by health and child safety advocates calling for the company to cancel plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13, NBC News reports. The groups argue that such an app "would put young users at great risk."
"Instagram, in particular, exploits young people's fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers," they write. "The platform's relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding presents challenges to adolescents' privacy and wellbeing."
Instagram head Adam Mosseri confirmed last month that the company was "exploring" a version of the app for children under 13, who are not officially allowed on Instagram, as was first reported by BuzzFeed News. A spokesperson for Instagram told NBC that it's looking for "practical solutions to the ongoing industry problem of kids lying about their age to access apps," suggesting this could be a way to provide kids who are already online with a "safe and age-appropriate" experience.
But the advocates counter that children between 10 and 12 who lie about their age to get on Instagram are unlikely to actually use a new version for kids, which they would see as "babyish," so this plan would "likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform's manipulative and exploitative features."
The Instagram spokesperson told NBC the company will "prioritize" the safety and privacy of children in any such app and will "consult with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform it."