Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids

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Democrats told Facebook on Monday they have concerns about the platform’s plans for an Instagram for children over the company’s “past failures” to protect kids on platforms aimed at youth users. 

“Facebook has a record of failing to protect children’s privacy and safety, casting serious doubt on its ability to do so on a version of Instagram that is marketed to children,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter[1] to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergCongressional CEO grillings can’t solve disinformation: We need a public interest regulator Google spending M to fight misinformation, fake news in Europe Hillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning MORE[3][4][5][6][7][2]

The letter, signed by Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyGive Republicans the climate credit they deserve Biden risks first major fight with progressives Five takeaways on Biden’s big infrastructure package MORE[9][10][11][12][13][8] (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorLawmakers wager barbecue, sweets and crab claws ahead of Super Bowl Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports MORE[15][16][17][18][19][14] (D-Fla.) and Rep. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanLawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot Lawmakers call for action on first anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death Ethics panel finds Massachusetts Democrat didn’t violate rules MORE[21][22][23][24][25][20] (D-Mass.), asked Facebook to detail its reported model for a children’s version of Instagram. 

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The Democrats press Facebook over concerns about children’s safety in regards to health, well being and data privacy. 

For example, the lawmakers ask Facebook if it will commit that any platforms it launches for children will be “completely free of targeted advertising.” They also ask if Facebook will commit to any platform it launches for children to be free of “like” buttons and beauty filters. 

“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,” the Democrats wrote. 

Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old to make an account, but Facebook has acknowledged[26] that young users sometimes lie about their date of birth in creating an account. 

The Democrats said that if Facebook’s goal is to decrease the number of users under the age of 13 on Instagram, the proposal for an alternative “may do more harm than good.” 

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A Facebook spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

Earlier this month a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill that the company was “exploring bringing a parent-controlled experience to Instagram to help kids keep up with their friends, discover new hobbies and interests, and more.”

The statement was shared after BuzzFeed News reported that Facebook is building a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13, citing a message from Instagram’s vice president of product, Vishal Shah, on an employee board. 

Facebook is facing pressure on its handling of content aimed at kids from both sides of the aisle. 

Last week, four Republicans, led by House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersGOP lawmakers press social media giants for data on impacts on children’s mental health Lawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs MORE[28][29][30][31][32][27] (Wash.), sent a letter[33] to Facebook, as well as Twitter and Google, for information on the impact their products have on children’s mental health. 

They pressed for information on the impact of the products on those under the age of 12, as well as those between 13 and 18.

References

  1. ^ wrote in a letter (www.markey.senate.gov)
  2. ^ Mark Zuckerberg (thehill.com)
  3. ^ Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (thehill.com)
  4. ^ Congressional CEO grillings can’t solve disinformation: We need a public interest regulator (thehill.com)
  5. ^ Google spending M to fight misinformation, fake news in Europe (thehill.com)
  6. ^ Hillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning (thehill.com)
  7. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  8. ^ Ed Markey (thehill.com)
  9. ^ Ed Markey (thehill.com)
  10. ^ Give Republicans the climate credit they deserve (thehill.com)
  11. ^ Biden risks first major fight with progressives (thehill.com)
  12. ^ Five takeaways on Biden’s big infrastructure package (thehill.com)
  13. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  14. ^ Kathy Castor (thehill.com)
  15. ^ Katherine (Kathy) Anne Castor (thehill.com)
  16. ^ Lawmakers wager barbecue, sweets and crab claws ahead of Super Bowl (thehill.com)
  17. ^ Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord (thehill.com)
  18. ^ OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports (thehill.com)
  19. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  20. ^ Lori Trahan (thehill.com)
  21. ^ Lori A. Trahan (thehill.com)
  22. ^ Lawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot (thehill.com)
  23. ^ Lawmakers call for action on first anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death (thehill.com)
  24. ^ Ethics panel finds Massachusetts Democrat didn’t violate rules (thehill.com)
  25. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  26. ^ has acknowledged (thehill.com)
  27. ^ Cathy McMorris Rodgers (thehill.com)
  28. ^ Cathy McMorris Rodgers (thehill.com)
  29. ^ GOP lawmakers press social media giants for data on impacts on children’s mental health (thehill.com)
  30. ^ Lawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot (thehill.com)
  31. ^ House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs (thehill.com)
  32. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  33. ^ sent a letter (thehill.com)

[email protected] (Rebecca Klar)


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