Alarmed by the apparent hesitancy by Florida’s Attorney General to join the national effort pushing Facebook to rethink plans for Instagram accounts for kids, the Senate Democratic Caucus on Tuesday urged Ashley Moody to set aside politics and add her signature to those of 44 other state attorneys general calling for the halt.
“Attorney General Moody’s silence on this issue speaks volumes: Governor DeSantis and Tallahassee Republicans would rather focus on partisan culture wars than legitimate child safety and mental health concerns plaguing families across the state,” the Senate Democrats said, adding that a letter to the Attorney General expressing their disappointment at her failure to act would be forthcoming later today.
On Monday, the attorneys general from 44 states signed a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling on him to reverse course on his plans to create an Instagram platform for children under the age of 13. Noting Facebook’s historical failure in protecting the welfare of children, the states’ top prosecutors wrote that such a new venue would throw open the possibility of new exploitation through mental distress, bullying, and even sexual abuse by online predators.
The bi-partisan signatories included attorneys general from Texas, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and New York. But not Florida’s, leading to speculation that Republican politics – and the recent DeSantis-led legislative push to punish social media companies that deplatformed former President Donald Trump – may be behind Attorney General Moody’s sudden silence. No similar reticence by Attorney General Moody has been shown on other issues supported by Republicans, the Democratic lawmakers noted, including her legal efforts to support the “Big Lie” and her support of efforts leading up to the attack on the Capitol.
“Instead of working to combat the social media-fueled rise in in mental distress amongst young people – including self-injurious behavior, suicidality, depression, and eating disorders – Republicans have fixated on a vindictive deplatforming agenda meant to punish private businesses for banning Donald Trump and his dangerous spread of disinformation leading to the Capitol attack on January 6,” the Caucus said.
“Research has shown that social media can be extremely harmful to children’s physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing – we urge Attorney General Moody to stand up to Governor DeSantis and demonstrate leadership on behalf of Florida’s vulnerable children.”