Subcommittee to probe FB impact on youth

Published 12:05 pm Wednesday, September 15, 2021

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Two U.S. Senators are going after Facebook, saying the heads of the social media platform knew of the negative impact it has on teens and young users yet are doing little to correct the situation. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are reaching across the aisle via their subcommittee to investigate allegations brought by the Wall Street Journal.

“It is clear that Facebook is incapable of holding itself accountable. The Wall Street Journal’s reporting reveals Facebook’s leadership to be focused on a growth-at-all-costs mindset that valued profits over the health and lives of children and teens. When given the opportunity to come clean to us about their knowledge of Instagram’s impact on young users, Facebook provided evasive answers that were misleading and covered up clear evidence of significant harm.

“We are in touch with a Facebook whistleblower and will use every resource at our disposal to investigate what Facebook knew and when they knew it – including seeking further documents and pursuing witness testimony. The Wall Street Journal’s blockbuster reporting may only be the tip of the iceberg,” stated Blackburn and Blumenthal in a news release.

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The two senators held a hearing in May to discuss just how to go about protecting kids online. Screen times for children are surging on popular apps like TikTok, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, leaving kids potentially exposed to safety and privacy issues including data collection, aggressive marketing and sexual exploitation.

Blackburn and Blumenthal wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in August, calling on the tech giant to release his internal research on the potentially harmful impact of his platforms – including Instagram Kids – on youth mental health and explain how this research has been used to further promote and market products to young users.