International Coalition Pressures Mark Zuckerberg to Drop Plans to Build Instagram for Kids

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: With an image of himself on a screen in the background, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg testified about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency …
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly under pressure from an international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups to drop plans for a version of Instagram aimed towards children under 13.

The New York Times reports that an international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups called on Facebook-owned Instagram this week to drop plans to develop a version of the app for children under 13.

Instagram’s decision to develop a separate children’s app comes after receiving complaints for years from legislators and parents that the platform has been slow to deal with issues affecting underage users such as online grooming and bullying.

In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the nonprofit groups warned that a children’s version of Instagram would not address the issues they have previously raised. The groups said that while 10 to 12-year-olds with Instagram accounts would be unlikely to switch to a “babyish version” of the app, it could attract even younger users into an endless routine of photo-scrolling.

The groups, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston, said in the letter to Zuckerberg: “While collecting valuable family data and cultivating a new generation of Instagram users may be good for Facebook’s bottom line, it will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features.”

The coalition of nonprofit groups also includes the Africa Digital Rights’ Hub in Ghana; the Australian Council on Children and the Media; the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington; Common Sense Media in San Francisco; the Consumer Federation of America; and the 5Rights Foundation in Britain.

A Facebook spokesperson stated that Instagram was still in the early stages of developing the children’s app. The spokesperson added that the company would not show ads in any Instagram product developer for children younger than 13 and planned to consult with experts on children’s health and safety on the project.

“The reality is that kids are online,” the spokesperson said. “They want to connect with their family and friends, have fun and learn, and we want to help them do that in a way that is safe and age-appropriate.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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