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Wisconsin’s AG urges Facebook to drop ‘Instagram for kids’ proposal

AG Josh Kaul is one of 44 Attorney’s General hitting the “dislike” button on “Instagram Kids”.
This Friday, Aug. 23, 2019 photo shows the Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device...
This Friday, Aug. 23, 2019 photo shows the Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device in New York. Facebook says it is working on a version of its Instagram app for kids under 13, who are technically not allowed to use the app in its current form due to federal privacy regulations. The company confirmed an earlier report by Buzzfeed News on Friday, March 19, 2021 saying it is “exploring a parent-controlled experience" on Instagram. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)(Jenny Kane | AP)
Published: May. 10, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 7:18 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Debate is growing over Facebook’s plan to develop a kids version of it’s popular photo sharing app, Instagram. Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul has joined Attorney’s General from more than 40 others U.S. states and territories, asking the company to reconsider.

In a letter to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, a bipartisan coalition of AG’s expressed concern about a Instagram Kids app. The new social media platform would target kids under the age of 13. The current version of Instagram prohibits users under that age from joining the online community. The company says Instagram Kids would give parents more control over kids’ online activity.

Attorney General Kaul worries the new platform could do more harm than good. “There should not be an Instagram for children under 13-years-old. We need to make sure we’re keeping kids safe online,” Kaul told NBC15.

Kaul went on to say that public safety including keeping kids safe online is his job and part of that involves holding major companies like Facebook accountable for enacting policies that protect children.

Instagram Kids would target children under 13 and one Madison parent says in her household, that’s too young.

“Nobody has been allowed any social media until they get to high school,” said Darsee Vanderloo, mother of three sons ranging from 7th grade to high school.

Vanderloo says she keeps a close eye on her three boys when it comes to social media. They must sign a contract acknowledging the household rules when it comes to digital media like online games and social networks.

“We do that so there are expectations for their behavior and who they can interact with online. They understand the consequences,” said Vanderloo.

She says for safety, it’s important to know what your kids are up to online and suggests talking to them about how to be responsible. Experts agree.

Heather Kirkorian, UW Associate Professor says social media has evolved in the last decade and the research around it’s impact on children is complex. She says it’s all about the way it’s used.

“While some young people may use social media to bully or end up being bullied, others may use it to connect when they’re feeling lonely,” said Kirkorian.

Kaul says these are factors kids under 13 are too young to process.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the company has “just started exploring a version of Instagram for kids.”

Plans are still in early stages and the company has committed to refrain from showing ads in an Instagram experience for kids under age 13.

Facebook officials argue that kids are already using the internet and that Instagram for kids would allow parents more control over there kids online activity.

“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. We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation’s attorneys general,” the spokesperson said.

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