Meta under investigation by coalition of states over Instagram’s effects on kids | #socialmedia

A bipartisan coalition of several state attorneys general has launched a probe into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, over the parent company’s social media platform Instagram’s effects on kids.

Meta Platforms, Inc., the owner of Instagram, is being investigated by several states over the social media platform’s impact on children (iStock) (istock / iStock)

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The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the investigation, said that there are at least eight states involved, and that the probe revolves around “the techniques used by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement.”

In a statement announcing the “nationwide” investigation, Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said, “When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws.”

Nebraska attorney general doug peterson

Doug Peterson, Nebraska attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images) (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)


Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement of her own while declaring she had joined the coalition, “Doesn’t make a difference if you call it Instagram, Facebook, or Meta, the fact still remains the same: These social media platforms are extremely dangerous and have been proven to cause both physical and mental harm in young people.”

“Time and again, [Meta CEO] Mark Zuckerberg and the companies he run have put profits over safety, but our investigation seeks to end that behavior,” James continued. “Our coalition will not hesitate to take whatever action is necessary to protect children and young adults from the harms Instagram and other social media platforms risk to so many.”

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images | Facebook / Getty Images)

The investigation comes after The Wall Street Journal reported in September that Instagram’s own internal research indicates that the platform, which is largely focused on photos and subjects’ appearance, could have a negative impact on a substantial percentage of users – particularly those with issues surrounding body image, like young girls.


In response to the investigation, a Meta spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement, “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.”

“We continue to build new features to help people who might be dealing with negative social comparisons or body image issues, including our new ‘Take a Break’ feature and ways to nudge them towards other types of content if they’re stuck on one topic,” the statement continued. “We continue to develop parental supervision controls and are exploring ways to provide even more age-appropriate experiences for teens by default.” 

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