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8 states team up to investigate Facebook for pushing Instagram on children

The investigation will look into how Meta tried to 'increase the frequency and duration' of use by younger users.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Nov 19, 2021   Updated Nov 19, 2021, 1:24 pm CST

A group of eight state attorneys general from across the country have launched an investigation into how Facebook, now known as Meta, was “providing and promoting” Instagram to children and teenagers despite knowing about mental health concerns.

The investigation comes after Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee who turned into a whistleblower, testified before Congress about the impact Instagram was having on the mental health of teenagers, among numerous other topics. During her testimony, Haugen said Facebook “put their astronomical profits before people.”

The Wall Street Journal published a series of stories earlier this year where internal Facebook documents showed that the social media giant knew Instagram could have a negative effect on the mental health of teenagers.

After backlash rose following the Wall Street Journal reports, Facebook announced that it was “pausing” its plans to build an “Instagram for Kids” platform. The company promised to work with ““parents, experts, policymakers and regulators.”

The states launching the investigation include California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. The attorneys generals from the states are both Democrats and Republicans.

In a news release, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson (R) said it was “imperative” for state attorneys general to investigate when “social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction.”

Both Peterson and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who are co-leading the investigation, said the investigation will look into “the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Meta for comment, but did not immediately receive a reply. We’ll update this story if we hear back.


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*First Published: Nov 19, 2021, 12:48 pm CST