Kathy Castor Wants Info from Facebook on Plans to Develop Instagram for Children

    On Monday, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., pushed for answers from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding Facebook’s recent announcement that the company is “exploring” plans to develop a version of Instagram for children.

    Castor joined U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., and U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., in writing Zuckerberg.

    In their letter, the lawmakers express concerns about Facebook’s past failures to protect children on Facebook’s Messenger Kids app and highlight evidence that young people’s use of social media platforms like Instagram may be detrimental to those users’ wellbeing and mental health.

    They also asked Zuckerberg a series of questions and request detailed commitments about how any future version of Instagram for children would operate, including:

    • Will you commit that any platforms that Facebook launches for children, including a version of Instagram that is marketed for children, will never sell or share any user data with third parties for commercial purposes? If not, why not?

     

    • Will you commit that any platforms that Facebook launches for children, including a version of Instagram that is marketed for children, will always be completely free of targeted advertising? If not, why not?

     

    • Will you commit that any platforms that Facebook launches for children, including a version of Instagram that is marketed for children, will always be completely free of “influencer marketing” and other forms of commercial content that children may be incapable of identifying as advertisements? If not, why not?

     

    • Will you commit that any platforms that Facebook launches for children, including a version of Instagram that is marketed for children, will not employ “push alert” techniques or similar design features that encourage users to spend time on the app? If not, why not?

     

    • Will you commit that any platforms that Facebook launches for children, including a version of Instagram that is marketed for children, will not employ features such as “like” buttons, follower counts, or other tools that allow children to quantify popularity? If not, why not?

     

    • Will you commit that any platforms that Facebook launches for children, including a version of Instagram that is marketed for children, will not include beauty filters or similar design features that can lead to an unhealthy body image?

     

    • Will you commit that any platform that Facebook launches for children, including a version of Instagram that is marketed for children, will not include ephemeral features such as stories and “vanish mode” which are difficult to monitor for bullying or child exploitation?

    The lawmakers’ letter concludes, “Should Facebook fail to provide adequate responses to the questions above or otherwise fail to demonstrate that a future version of Instagram for children would meet the highest standards of user protection, we would advise you to abandon your plans to launch this new platform.”

    Share this article on:

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here