Child safety groups urge Facebook to drop Instagram for Kids

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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A coalition of child protection activists from around the world has spoken out against social media giant Facebook’s attempts to introduce a version of Instagram for children.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mr. Mark Zuckerberg received a letter from the group, which was signed by 99 groups and individuals, asking Facebook to cancel its plans to launch a kids’ version of Instagram.

The letter notes that Instagram is “image-obsessed,” which also claims that the social media site is harmful to children’s mental health and privacy.

The letter pointed out that “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 of their followers.”

The letter arrived at a time when Facebook has been criticized for spreading misinformation across its platforms.

The letter was sent in collaboration with 35 other organizations and 64 individual experts by Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), a US-based nonprofit organization. The letter also spoke about younger children being unprepared to deal with the pressures that come with being involved on social media platforms.

According to Instagram’s existing rules, children under the age of 13 are not allowed to create their accounts. In contrast, Instagram for kids would only allow children under the age of 13.

Instagram spokesperson Ms. Stephanie Otway spoke about how kids are using social media to interact with their families and friends, and the company hopes to help them do that in a way that is “safe and age-appropriate”.

According to the CCFC, Instagram plays on young people’s fears by requiring them to continually seek approval from others when posting photos. The organization added that the platform’s constant emphasis on appearance and self-presentation would pose a threat to adolescents’ privacy and well-being.

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