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Instagram's CEO will appear before a Senate subcommittee to discuss the platform's impact on children

 



A Senate subcommittee is scheduled to hear testimony from Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri in early December about the platform's potentially harmful impact on younger users, following months of investigation into the matter.

 

Mosseri's testimony before Congress will be his first appearance before a legislative body. As a result, he becomes the highest-ranking executive from Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, who has agreed to testify since whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked hundreds of internal company documents. Many of those documents state that Instagram can be harmful to a young person's mental health and body image, and that it can exacerbate dangerous behaviors like eating disorders among young people.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, told CNN Business that "we want to hear directly from the company's leadership about why it uses powerful algorithms to push poisonous content to children, leading them down rabbit holes to dark places, and what it plans to do to make its platform safer." "In the wake of shocking reports about Instagram's toxic effects," Blumenthal said. Prior to this, Blumental had requested testimony from Mosseri or Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding the impact of Instagram on children's lives.

 

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, a former Facebook executive who has been in charge of the company since 2018, confirmed his intention to testify in a video posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday. "We have common goals," Mosseri stated, referring to the company and legislators.

 

'We all want young people to be safe online, so I'm looking forward to these conversations,' he said, adding that "you'll be hearing a lot more from us about safety, not just on Instagram, but across the entire Metaverse."

 

The following is a statement from Meta spokesperson Dani Lever to CNN Business: "We are continuing to work with the committee to schedule Adam [Mosseri] to testify about the critical steps Instagram is taking."

 

The New York Times was the first to break the news of Mosseri's willingness to testify.

 

The announcement of the hearing comes amid increased regulatory pressure on social media platforms Meta (Facebook) and Instagram. Last week, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general launched an investigation into the potential harms that Instagram may cause to children and adolescents in their respective states. (Meta has stated that the allegations made by the attorneys general are untrue.) Additionally, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against Meta, alleging that the company misled the public about its algorithm and the harms that its apps can cause users. Meta claims that the lawsuit lacks merit.

 

After citing internal company documents and research, The Wall Street Journal published the first report on Instagram's impact on young people in September of this year. Apparently, Facebook was aware that Instagram was "toxic" for adolescent girls, as reported in the report. Despite the Journal's reporting, Meta has responded by claiming that its applications do more good than harm.

 

In September, lawmakers interrogated Antigone Davis, Facebook's head of global safety, about the impact of Instagram on children under the age of 18. In spite of Davis's claim that her organization is "exploring options for releasing more research," which she believes will paint a more favorable picture of the platform, Davis was criticized for not more firmly agreeing to release additional internal information about it.

 

In response to the fallout from the Journal report, the company announced in late September that it would put the development of a children's version of Instagram on hold for the time being.

 

As part of its ongoing efforts to develop features that protect children, Instagram announced a "Take a Break" reminder in October, which was followed by a similar reminder in November. In his Wednesday Twitter video, Mosseri also discussed tools such as "hidden words," which allow users to have greater control over what others can say in their direct messages and comments. He went on to say that the company is also working on parental controls to help parents limit the amount of time their children spend on the app.

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