By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - A group of 40 state attorneys general on Monday urged Facebook FB.O Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to abandon plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.
"Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account," the officials said in a letter that was also signed by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. "Further, Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms."
A Facebook spokesman did not have an immediate comment.
The bipartisan letter, which was signed by the attorneys general of New York, Texas, California, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Utah, Vermont and Kentucky and others said "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 said media reports from 2019 showed that Facebook’s Messenger Kids app, intended for kids between the ages of six and 12, "contained a significant design flaw that allowed children to circumvent restrictions on online interactions and join group chats with strangers that were not previously approved by the children’s parents."
Last month, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood also called on Zuckerberg not create a version of photo-sharing app Instagram for young children saying it would put them at "great risk."
(Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Carmel Crimmins)
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