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Facebook to face Senate criticism over influence of Instagram on teens

Facebook to face Senate criticism over influence of Instagram on teens
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Facebook to face Senate criticism over influence of Instagram on teens

Facebook to face Senate criticism over influence of Instagram on teens

Facebook’s global security chief Antigone Davis may face harsh questioning from senators on Thursday morning about Instagram’s impact on teens, addressing allegations that Facebook has known for years that its photo-sharing app has caused mental and physical abuse. caused emotional harm.

The hearing is the first of two that the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee will have on the impact Facebook has on young people. The second, on Tuesday, will be with a whistleblower who has shared information about Facebook’s research on teens.

The hearing was called this month after The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles about internal research on Facebook. One article reported that, according to Facebook’s findings, one in three teens said Instagram made their body image issues worse. Among teens who have suicidal thoughts, 13 percent of British users and 6 percent of American users said they could discover those thoughts on Instagram.

On Wednesday evening, Facebook released two slide decks from research cited by The Journal. The company commented heavily on the slides, at times disputing or re-disputing the accuracy and intent of the research reports. The company said in its slides that several teens reported positive experiences on Instagram, including that the app helped with mental health at times.

The lawmakers said the documents were only a small part of internal Facebook research they saw on Instagram and teens. The chairman of the subcommittee and Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Facebook appears to be cherry-picking data in line with its messaging.

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“To be very clear, it’s more concealment and deceit,” Mr Blumenthal said in an interview. “I am becoming increasingly convinced that they are unable to hold themselves accountable, and therefore the public, through users or Congress, must impose accountability.”

The research appears to contradict public statements from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram executive in-charge Adam Mosseri. The two have long dismissed warnings that Instagram – through filters that can enhance images and a “Like” button that can be used as a gauge of popularity – has created a frightening trend for younger users. created the atmosphere and made many teenagers feel bad about themselves.

This week, Mr Mosseri announced that Facebook would be halting plans to release a version of Instagram aimed at elementary and middle school children.

Mr Mosseri has argued that the journal article on Instagram took the research out of context, adding that the number of adolescents in the study was “significantly small”. He has said that many teens report positive experiences on Instagram.

Ms Davis, who has led security at Facebook for seven years, is expected to reiterate that message at the hearing. The company has defended the idea of ​​an app for kids like YouTube Kids, saying it could offer more robust security and privacy features for young children than the main Instagram app.

“From turning a blind eye to the negative impacts of its platforms on teen mental health, to the inability to police for trafficking, domestic slavery and other harmful content, Facebook,” Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, a Republican ranking in the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, said in a statement. Has a lot.”

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