A group of state attorneys, including Bay State’s Maura Healey, is investigating the photo-sharing platform Instagram and its effects on children and young adults, and says the parent company Facebook – now Meta Platforms – ignored internal research into the physical and mental health hazards it poses to young people.
“Facebook, now Meta, has failed to protect young people on its platforms and has instead chosen to ignore or in some cases double known manipulations that pose a real threat to physical and mental health – exploiting children in the interest of profit,” he said. Healey.
The study includes a bipartisan coalition of AGs from California, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont. It follows damning reports, first by The Wall Street Journal and based on the company’s own research, which found that the company knew about the harm Instagram can cause teens – especially teenage girls – when it comes to mental health and body image.
Since initial reports, a consortium of news organizations has published their own findings based on leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen, who has testified before Congress.
“Enough is enough,” California AG Rob Bonta said. “We have launched this nationwide survey to get answers about Meta’s efforts to promote the use of this social media platform for young Californians – and to determine if Meta by doing so violated the law.”
The study focuses on the techniques that Meta uses to keep young people on its platforms – and the damage that long-term use of Instagram can cause.
In a statement, Meta spokeswoman Liza Crenshaw called the allegations “false” and said they demonstrated “a deep misunderstanding of facts.”
“While challenges in protecting young people online affect the entire industry, we have led the industry in the fight against bullying and supported people struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-harm and eating disorders,” Crenshaw said.
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