More backlash for Facebook as it plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.

On Monday, 44 attorneys general signed a letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to scrap plans for an Instagram intended for younger users, citing mental health and privacy concerns. 

States on the letter include Massachusetts, Nebraska, Vermont, Tennessee, Alaska, California, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia, as well as the territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

The letter comes less than a month after child safety groups and Congress expressed similar concerns.

"Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account," the latest letter said. "Further, Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms. The attorneys general have an interest in protecting our youngest citizens, and Facebook's plans to create a platform where kids under the age of 13 are encouraged to share content online is contrary to that interest."

Facebook claims such a service would give parents greater control over their children's online activity.

"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," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "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."

Instagram doesn't formally allow users under the age of 13 onto the platform. But because there is not a strict age verification, some younger users have accounts. 

This wouldn't be Facebook's first time showing interest in developing a children version of one of its services. Its Messenger Kids messaging app targets users ages six to 12.

The state AGs referencing the design flaw in the 2019 application that resulted in kids bypassing the restrictions and connecting with adults. Facebook has said the error affected group chats and was detected and resolved. 


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