A global collective of public health advocates have written to Facebook urging the social media company to discard their plans to create a child-friendly version of the photo-sharing app, Instagram.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has sent a letter containing the signatures of 99 groups and individuals to Facebook claiming that Instagram is dangerous for children’s health and privacy.
The tech conglomerate, along with other social media platforms, has recently come under pressure amid calls to prevent under-13s from joining the service. In a statement given to the BBC, Facebook said: ‘We're working on new age verification methods to keep under-13s off Instagram, and have just started exploring an Instagram experience for kids that is age-appropriate and managed by parents’.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s letter states that users under the age of 13 who are already on Instagram are not likely to ‘abandon it for a new site that seems babyish’ and that the ‘real target of Instagram for kids will be much younger children’.
According to Josh Golin, executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Instagram’s ‘business model relies on extensive data collection, maximising time on devices, [and] promoting a culture of oversharing and idolising influencers’. He added that ‘It is certainly not appropriate for seven-year olds’.
The letter refers to research conducted by The Royal Society for Public Health, which rated Instagram as the worst social media platform for youth mental health. The report also notes that Instagram is linked to an increased risk of eating disorders and sexual grooming.
Addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the letter was signed by 35 organisations and 64 individual experts, including Electronic Privacy Information Center.
You can read the letter from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in full here.