For Immediate Release:
Monday, May 10, 2021
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13, citing serious concerns about the harm that social media poses for young people.
“Launching a version of Instagram for young children is a terrible idea,” said Attorney General Stein. “Facebook’s inability to stop the spread of disinformation, protect people’s personal information, and stop abuse provides no confidence that the company would be able to protect our young people online. I am particularly concerned about the impact even more social media at a younger age could have on our children’s emotional well-being. Keeping our kids safe is job one for all of us. That’s why I oppose Facebook’s ill-considered and dangerous move to allow young children on Instagram.”
In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Attorney General Stein and a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general contend that social media is detrimental for children and that Facebook has historically failed to protect children on its platforms.
Their reasons for concern include:
- Research that social media can be harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children.
- Rapidly worsening concerns about cyberbullying on Instagram – a 2017 survey found that 42 percent of young Instagram users had experienced cyberbullying on the platform.
- Use of the platform by predators to target children. In 2020 alone, Facebook and Instagram reported 20 million child sexual abuse images.
- Facebook’s checkered record in protecting the welfare of children on its platforms and complying with privacy laws.
- Children’s lack of capacity to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online, including advertising, inappropriate content, and relationships with strangers.
Attorney General Stein has been leading efforts in North Carolina to protect children online. He drafted and championed the SAFE Child Act, which became law in 2019 and helps protect children from abuse wherever they are, including social networking sites. The law bars high-risk sex offenders from contacting anyone under the age of 16 using social media or social networking platforms, collecting information about anyone under the age of 16, or violating social media platform policies.
Attorney General Stein is joined in sending today’s letter by the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Nebraska, Tennessee, Vermont, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
A copy of the letter is available here.
More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect young people online:
- Attorney General Josh Stein Fights to Protect Students from Bullying
- Attorney General Josh Stein Releases Resources for Parents During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Attorney General Stein to FTC: Protect Our Children Online
- Attorney General Josh Stein: The SAFE Child Act will Protect North Carolina’s Children