US lawmakers to investigate Instagram’s impact on kids

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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A bipartisan coalition of US state attorneys general has started an investigation into US-based social media giant, Meta, for promoting its subsidiary Instagram, a photo-sharing platform, to children despite potential physical and mental health dangers it posed to young people.

The probe, involving attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont, comes at a time when the American social media giant is under scrutiny over its approach to children and young adults.

Earlier, media reports revealed that the company knew about the harms Instagram can cause teenagers, especially teen girls when it comes to mental health and body image issues.

Rob Bonta
Rob Bonta
Attorney General

“For too long, Meta has ignored the havoc that Instagram is wreaking on the mental health and well-being of our children and teens. Enough is enough. We’ve undertaken this nationwide investigation to get answers about Meta’s efforts to promote the use of this social media platform to young Californians and to determine if, in doing so, Meta violated the law.”

The investigation targets, among other things, the techniques Meta uses to keep young people on its platforms and the harms that extended time spent on Instagram can cause.

A Meta spokesperson stated, “these accusations are false and demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of the facts. While challenges in protecting young people online impact the entire industry, we’ve led the industry in combating bullying and supporting people struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-injury, and eating disorders.”

The company is continuing to develop parental supervision controls and exploring ways to provide age-appropriate experiences for teens by default. Instagram, like other social media sites, has rules against children under 13 joining the platform.

The state investigations follow an announcement that Ohio’s largest public employee pension fund had sued Meta, alleging that it broke federal securities law by purposely misleading the public about the negative effects of its social platforms and the algorithms that run them.

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