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Kentucky AG Wants Facebook to Scrap Kids’ Instagram

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021   

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky's attorney general is part of a group that wants Facebook to stop its plans to create a kids' version of Instagram.

The group contended that using social media can be detrimental to children's health, and that kids aren't equipped to navigate the challenges. Attorney General Daniel Cameron signed the letter, along with more than 40 other state attorneys general. Children's advocates have said they're also concerned about the potential for sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, explained that the internet and social media are key tools for perpetrators.

"That is how they access the ability to interact - to get to know, to become familiar - with potential victims," he said, "so this is not some arcane argument."

Earlier this year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg confirmed plans for an Instagram platform for kids in a congressional hearing on misinformation. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the company wants to deliver experiences for kids that give parents visibility and control over what their children are doing.

A National Council for Missing and Exploited Children report found that in 2020, more than 20 million images related to child abuse had been shared on Facebook and Instagram.

Brooks also pointed to research showing the link between kids' social media use and increases in cyberbullying, mental distress and suicidal ideation.

"The potential for negative consequences in mental health for children is profound," he said.

In addition to parents, Brooks said state leaders should carefully monitor emerging social-media technology aimed at kids.

"We are so glad that Kentucky's attorney general joined with those other 43 attorneys general to try to stand up for kids, against the absolute profiteering incentive that Facebook is bringing to the table," he said.

In a Pew Research Center survey last summer, 71% of parents of children younger than age 12 said they are "somewhat concerned" their child might spend too much time in front of screens.

Disclosure: Kentucky Youth Advocates/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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