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Lawmakers question Facebook's plan to create Instagram for kids

A group of lawmakers wants CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer some questions about Facebook's plan to create an Instagram for kids. Facebook responds.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Members of Congress are calling on Facebook to rethink its plan to create an Instagram for kids.

Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) are demanding answers from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

A few weeks ago, members questioned him during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing.

The lawmakers have now sent a letter to Facebook, expressing concerns about the social media site's past failures to protect children on the Messenger Kids app. 

It also has research they say shows a correlation between mental health and interaction on online apps.

They say it demonstrates, especially among young girls, there's a higher rate of suicide, self-harm, anxiety and depression. 

"I do not believe it's appropriate to promote Instagram to children. We already have a law that says you can't gather their data, you can't track them. I think this is a way for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to skirt that law and get kids addicted early. Well before the age of 13 in an effort to maximize their profits," Castor said.

She says she is working with other members of Congress and will be introducing the Kids Privacy Act in the coming weeks. 

We reached out to Facebook. Stephanie Otway, a Facebook Company Spokesperson, sent us this statement: 

"The National PTA found that 81 percent of parents reported their children started using social media between the ages of 8 and 13. If we can encourage kids to use an experience that is age-appropriate and managed by parents, we think that's far better than kids using apps that weren't designed for them. This is in addition to our ongoing work to keep underage users off Instagram."

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