'Child Predator's Paradise'? Facebook's Instagram 2.0 Targets Kids Under 13: Report

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Ask any responsible parent to share their top two concerns about their young children and access to social media and the answer will generally be child predators, and their young kids seeing, hearing, or reading things they don’t want them to see, hear, or read.

I’ve seen it happen, countless times — the latter not the former. Perhaps you have, as well.

With that thought in mind, let’s talk about Instagram.

Ever since its launch in 2010, as reported by The New York Post, Instagram has forbidden any child under the age of 13 from using the app. But now, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which bought the social media platform in 2012, is reportedly developing an Instagram 2.0 app that specifically targets kids under that age threshold.

Business Insider reported last week that Facebook’s new Instagram program is led by the former head of YouTube Kids. “We have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and have added it to our H1 priority list,” Instagram vice president of product Vishal Shah said in an internal memo, according to BuzzFeed.

The project will be overseen by Instagram head Adam Mosseri and led by Pavni Diwanji, a Facebook vice president who not only previously led YouTube Kids, but other child-focused products at the Google subsidiary, as well.

A Facebook spokesperson told Insider in a statement:

“Increasingly kids are asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends.

“Right now there aren’t many options for parents, so we’re working on building additional products — like we did with Messenger Kids — that are suitable for kids, managed by parents.

“We’re exploring bringing a parent-controlled experience to Instagram to help kids keep up with their friends, discover new hobbies and interests, and more.”

What could possibly go wrong?

Cryptocurrency researcher and cultural commentator John Mac Ghlionn shared his thoughts on answers to that question in an op-ed for The New York Post titled, New Instagram for kids under 13 would create a child predator’s paradise.

First and foremost, Ghlionn said the notion that “Instagram for kids” will be “parent-controlled,” 24×7 — even by responsible parents — is “laughable.”

“But don’t worry, folks, the new Insta will be run by parents. Considering the average parent is exhausted and overworked, claiming they have just 32 minutes to themselves every day, the idea that this new app will be continuously monitored by moms and dads is laughable.

“Furthermore, underage children are already getting onto social media without their parents’ consent. Today, the majority of young children own a cellphone by the age of 7, and most children develop habits by the age of 9 — and the results are sometimes disastrous.

“Earlier this month, a 12-year old boy died after taking part in a ‘blackout challenge’ seen on TikTok.”

TikTok aside, Instagram has proved to be even worse when it comes to young kids, Ghlionn said, noting that “Insta” — as Instagram groupies like to call it — is the most popular site for child predators. The following is disgusting, gang. (emphasis, mine)

“Instagram’s plans to recruit a younger audience is especially worrying, considering it is one of the most popular sites for child predators. In 2019, an international group of human rights NGOs called Instagram a ‘predator’s paradise.’

“According to one report, members of the group ‘compiled an alarming dossier of grooming-style behaviors on the popular social media platform.’

“The researchers “discovered hundreds of predatory comments from men describing sexual acts they wanted to perform on underage girls, some as young as 7.”

Stuff happens, right, Zuck? You know, like the bumper sticker (almost) says. But, hey — you have no trouble tracking down all that dangerous conservative content on Facebook, huh?

Speaking of Zuck, according to Breitbart, the Facebook CEO is reportedly under pressure from an international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups to drop plans for a version of Instagram aimed specifically at young kids.

And this.

Will Zuckerberg listen?

In your answer to that question, feel free to insert as many ROTFL emojis as you’d like. As Ghlionn observed:

“Considering Facebook’s past sins, such as the harvesting of users’ private data and its unwillingness to keep the site free from hate speech and misinformation, it’s doubtful.

“What drives the company is a relentless appetite for growth and profit, and as TikTok’s audience quickly outpaces Instagram, it is hungry to recruit new members — the earlier the better.”

Ghlionn’s thoughts at the end of his op-ed were most interesting.

“When we think of evil, we tend to think of men in balaclavas, armed with weapons, moving quietly through the dead of night.

“However, some of the worst ideas are in plain sight, and some of the worst people are in positions of power. They lobby politicians and play major roles in drafting legislation.

“This is the banality of evil in its purest form, and Mark Zuckerberg is its poster boy.”

“In 2019, when Facebook tried to launch Libra, its own digital currency,” Ghlionn said, “Congress stepped in. Now, two years later, it must do the same again.”

And the chances of that happening? Somewhere between nil and zero.

Given what we’ve seen from Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and lesser-known left-wing social media autocrats don’t hold your breath.

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