BOSTON (WWLP) – Attorney General Maura Healey announced that she will be co-leading a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys that are urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.
In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, AG Healey and the coalition argue that social media can be detrimental to minors, citing serious concerns about the safety and well-being of children and the harm social media poses to young people.
“I’m joining my colleagues across the country who are heavily invested in protecting our youngest residents from harm, sexual predators, and cyberbullying to call on Facebook to abandon this reckless plan to exploit children,” said AG Healey.
In their letter, attorneys express various concerns over Facebook’s proposal, including social media’s harmful effects on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children.
“Facebook faces a critical choice: will they plow ahead with their ill-conceived plan to ensnare young children, or will they listen to the growing chorus of parents, experts, advocates, lawmakers, and regulators who are telling them that an Instagram kids’ site will undermine young children’s healthy development and right to privacy?,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
At a Congressional hearing in March, Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that social media is harmful to children, despite strong data and research that has shown a link between young people’s use of social media and an increase in mental distress, self-injurious behavior, and suicidal ideation.
AG Healey has called on Facebook on other occasions to stop practices on its platform that put the public at risk. In March, AG Healey called on Facebook and Twitter to take stronger measures to stop the spread of anti-vaxxer coronavirus disinformation on their social media platforms.
Co-leading the letter with AG Healey are the Attorneys General of Nebraska, Tennessee, and Vermont amongst others.
In Massachusetts, this effort was led by Assistant Attorney General Abrisham Eshghi of the AG’s Children’s Justice Unit.