In a letter sent to Mark Zuckerberg Monday, attorneys general from 44 states urged the Facebook CEO to abandon plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids under 13.
"Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms," the letter reads. "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."
The letter, submitted by the National Association of Attorneys General, points to research that links social media use with self-harm, suicidal ideation and low self-esteem, as well as research on cyberbullying. It also notes the risks of social media platforms being used to target, abuse and groom children.
"It appears that Facebook is not responding to a need, but instead creating one, as this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account," the letter reads.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the company has "just started exploring a version of Instagram for kids" and said the company is committing today not to show ads in that product.
"We agree that any experience we develop must prioritize their safety and privacy, and we will consult with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform it," the spokesperson said. "We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation's attorneys general."
Buzzfeed News first reported on Facebook's plans to create an Instagram for kids.
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.