You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t on social media these days. Facebook is nearing 3 billion users, Twitter is well on track to cross 300 million soon, and Instagram has over 1 billion users worldwide.
For all the good it has done, we all know the many dangers associated with it. Numerous studies have been able to find a correlation between prolonged social media use and anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness and even reduced sleep quality. And that is not even touching on the effects of fake news.
Facebook is ground zero when it comes to the spread of fake news. Tap or click here to see why it refuses to ban it. Instagram regularly cracks down on content violations, but many will argue that it’s not strong enough. So when parent company Facebook announced plans to develop a dedicated Instagram for children, thousands of people objected.
Here’s the backstory
Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg unleashed a bombshell by revealing to Congress members that the social media giant is drawing up plans for a child-friendly version of the photo-sharing app. As it stands, you must be over the age of 13 to use Facebook or Instagram.
“There is clearly a large number of people under the age of 13 who would want to use a service like Instagram,” he told Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis during testimony. Zuckerberg explained the concept is “early in our thinking.”
For many people, including Bilirakis, this naturally didn’t sit well. “Are you trying to monetize our children, too, and get them addicted early?” he asked. Congresswoman Kathy Castor also took aim at the platform, accusing Zuckerberg of knowing that kids under 13 are using Instagram.
“Of course, every parent knows there are kids under the age of 13 on Instagram. And the problem is that you know it,” she said.
To put a stop to Facebook’s intentions, three separate online petitions have been started. Collectively they have gathered almost 200,000 signatures.
Tell Facebook what you think
If you want to add your voice to the thousands of disgruntled social media users and concerned parents, you can sign the petition too. Here is a petition that was started by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
“Young children aren’t ready to have their own social media accounts. Instagram is designed to keep users constantly checking their devices and promotes oversharing of personal information,” states the text addressed to Zuckerberg.
The Campaign stresses that Instagram is built for photo sharing, which encourages a focus on personal appearance. This is damaging to young children, especially in their formative years, the Campaign explains.
The Action Network started a second petition. It drew it up by collaborating with several other organizations like National Center for Sexual Exploitation, Progress America and Parents Together Action. You can add your name to this petition here.
“Even as full-grown adults, the problems with social media are brutally apparent and often hard to maneuver the feelings of inadequacy, the overblown focus on consumerism, and the skewed self-image it creates,” appeal the group.
With over 123,000 signatures, the petition on Sum of Us is not pulling any punches. It claims that “just when you thought Facebook couldn’t get worse, it invents a fresh kind of hell — Instagram for Kids.”
Taking more of an aggressive stance, the page claims that Zuckerberg is “hoping to get them hooked on likes and comments about their appearance and harvest their data for profit.”
Whether that is true is open for debate, but the consensus is that Facebook must be prevented from developing it.
Hear Kim’s thoughts in 1 minute
This issue is so important that Kim decided to do a special Daily Tech Update podcast dealing with it. Listen to Kim’s thoughts in the link below, and don’t forget to share the podcast with family and friends.