More than 180,000 people have signed petitions in an ongoing outcry urging Facebook to undo its plans for a kids Instagram.
The signatures come from three petitions from nonprofits and grassroots organizations, including the Campaign for a Non-Trade Childhood, SumOfUs, and a joint effort led by the Juggernaut Project. The groups collectively claim that a version of Instagram, the app for sharing photos and videos with more than 1 billion users, is not suitable for children under 13.
The groups said Tuesday they plan to file the petitions, which began in early April, on Facebook ahead of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday. In a statement, Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Trade-Free Childhood, said the groups will not allow Instagram to use young children as “pawns in their war with TikTok” for market share.
“Teens and even adults on Instagram struggle with an endless focus on appearance, relentless fear of getting lost, promoting influencer culture, and pressure to pick the likes,” Golin said. . “Instagram for young children is one of the most greedy, deaf and misguided ideas ever to come out of Silicon Valley.”
In response, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We have just started exploring a version of Instagram for children. We agree that any experience we develop should prioritize its safety and privacy and we will consult child development experts, “Child safety and mental health and privacy advocates to keep you informed. In addition, we will not show ads in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.”
Two months ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that plans for Instagram for children are in “very early stages,” during a congressional hearing on misinformation.
Currently, Instagram does not allow children under 13 to use the platform.
The petitions are presented as a growing effort to stop a potential Instagram for boys and girls. The signatures also come more than two weeks after 44 U.S. attorneys general sent an instant letter to Zuckerberg leaving an Instagram for kids. This letter comes after a similar letter from nearly 100 global experts and child advocates also led by the Campaign for a Non-Trade Childhood and other groups urging Zuckerberg not to follow the plans of his new Instagram.
“It’s hard to imagine an idea less popular with parents, child welfare advocates, and progressive activists than a child-specific version of Instagram,” said Josh Nelson, co-founder of the Juggernaut Project. “That’s why more than 180,000 people and others have signed petitions asking Facebook to put their plans aside and leave the children alone.”
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These organizations are not alone, as a group of U.S. lawmakers reiterated last week that Facebook eliminates any Instagram strategy for children. Senators Ed Markey, Mass., And Richard Blumenthal, Conn., And women in Congress, Kathy Castor, Florida, and Lori Trahan, Maryland, said Facebook had not yet addressed its concerns after sending a public letter. to the company on April 26th.
“Facebook has a clear track record of not protecting children on its platforms,” lawmakers said in a joint statement. “When it comes to putting people before profits, Facebook has lost the advantage of doubt and we strongly urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids,” lawmakers said.
Organizers of the petition said that if the widespread opposition does not convince Facebook to curb its plans, “it would be further evidence that the company is considered inexplicable to policymakers and the public and must be broken by the ‘antitrust law enforcement’.
The groups also cite a recent study by the nonprofit organization THORN that found that 16% of kids using Instagram had online sexual interaction on the platform, which was linked to Snapchat at the highest rate of any. platform included in your study.
“Facebook’s Instagram plan for kids is like Big Tobacco selling“ child-friendly ”cigarettes – a cynical strategy to connect users as soon as possible and that serves the interests of no one except Mark Zuckerberg “added Emma Ruby-Sachs, CEO of SumOfUs. “Facebook knows that the damage that Instagram is already causing to the health, self-esteem and safety of children. If they continue to move forward, we need governments to intervene and protect our children from this blatant attempt to raise more dollars for the most vulnerable. “. “
One person who has signed all three petitions, Titania Jordan, head of parents at Bark, an Atlanta-based technology watchdog group, said Monday she knows Facebook needs to pay attention to all criticism.
“Given that they have their finger on the pulse of social listening, they have the ability to get that feedback,” Jordan said on Facebook and a children’s Instagram. “If they take that into account, it’s something else. I just don’t see how they can justify it at all.”