Religious Leaders Direct Zuckerberg to Cancel ‘Instagram Kids’ Plan

In a statement delivered by advocacy group Fairplay and its Children’s Screen Time Action Network, Reverends, rabbis, and other religious leaders urged Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to permanently suspend the company’s plan for an Instagram version aimed for youngsters and children.

Instagram’s intentions to launch a children’s version of the photo-sharing app have been on hold since September, as public opposition to the initiative mounted.

According to the letter,

After much meditation and prayer, we assert that social media platforms that target immature brains, practice unethical data mining, and are inspired by profit motives are not a tool for the greater good of children.

Religious Leaders Direct Zuckerberg to Cancel ‘Instagram Kids’ Plan

Instagram and its parent company, Meta have been heavily criticised for the potential impact of their services on young people’s mental health, body image, and safety. A Senate panel grilled Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri in December regarding children’s internet safety. A group of state attorneys general has launched an investigation into Meta for advertising Instagram to youngsters despite the risks.

On the other hand, Meta has said the leaked documents have been used to paint a false picture of the company. Instagram for Kids was created to provide a safer, dedicated space for younger users to interact with the service, according to the company.

Instagram, like other social media platforms, has regulations prohibiting children under the age of 13 from joining, although it has acknowledged that it has users under this age.

The faith groups’ letter, which included references to the Bible, Qur’an, Pope Francis, and Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, urged Zuckerberg, who has previously stated that religion is “extremely important,” to consider spiritual as well as secular concerns about the initiative.

However, Instagram declined to comment on the letter.  Meta’s persistent outreach to the religious sector in its efforts to promote participation on its platforms was revealed by Reuters last year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company, which has a dedicated faith partnerships team, released a new feature on the site to seek and send prayers, handed out micro equipment kits for streaming worship, and had its first virtual faith summit last year.

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