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Senator requests testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding Instagram and kids

On Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal wrote to Mark Zuckerberg, requesting that the CEO of Facebook or Instagram testify about the platform's negative impact on children and young people.

Using internal company documents leaked by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, Blumenthal asserted that the company "appears to have concealed critical information about teen mental health and addiction from us." "When I requested specific information about Instagram and teens in an August letter, Facebook provided evasive and misleading responses, which Ms. Haugen has now directly challenged," Blumenthal wrote.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September as part of a series based on leaked documents that Facebook researchers have been conducting studies into how Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, affects its millions of young users for the past three years, according to a report by the publication. According to the findings of the study, the platform can have a negative impact on mental health and body image, particularly in adolescent girls.

Instagram appeared to be forced to reconsider its plans to launch a version of its service for children under the age of thirteen as a result of the Journal's reporting, combined with renewed congressional pressure in the aftermath. Instagram announced that it would halt the project just days before Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, testified before Blumenthal's Commerce subcommittee.

"It appears to me that Davis provided false or inaccurate testimony to me regarding attempts by the company to conceal its research internally," Blumenthal said, expressing surprise.

The following is noteworthy: in response to direct questions about whether Facebook has restricted or blocked access to documents, Ms. Davis stated that 'it is not my understanding that we have done so,' and she committed to informing my office if her understanding changes. However, according to several news outlets, [Facebook] has restricted access to documents from the Facebook Integrity team, which was announced last week. Such actions indicate that the company is attempting to avoid scrutiny rather than embrace it."

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