Several States are Investigating How Instagram Keeps Kids on the Platform. A group of state attorneys general has announced an investigation into “the techniques utilized by Meta (formerly facebook) to help increase the frequency and duration of engagement” of children and teens on Instagram and the negative effects that it may cause via The Wall Street Journal.
The group, which includes officials from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Vermont, accuses the company of doing this despite reports that its own research showed the platform could have a negative effect on the young ones.
Several States are Investigating How Instagram Keeps Kids on the Platform
The research in question was exposed in a report from the Wall Street Journal, which said the company’s own documents show “Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls.”
It was later discussed in a Senate hearing, where the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said that the company is unlikely to change its habit of putting its profits above people’s well-being.
The investigation will be looking into whether the company really broke consumer protection laws in its quest to keep people engaged with content on Instagram.
Ohio’s Attorney General Suing
This group of attorneys general is not the only one taking action against Meta Ohio’s attorney general is suing the company separately, and accusing the company of misleading the public about its products’ effects on children.
Meta said the suit was “without merit” and has largely pushed back against the reports from outlets like the WSJ, saying that the research published lacked context.
Some of the attorneys general involved in this investigation announced on Thursday were involved in an effort earlier this year to help convince Meta then Facebook to stop working on an Instagram for kids.
The company had previously announced its goal of making a version of the social network for people younger than the age of 13 and would later say it was “pausing” work on it.
Senate and House lawmakers have called the pause “insufficient,” arguing that the company had “completely forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting young people online and it must completely abandon” that project.
Meta Is Concerned About Young People Not Using Its Products
The company has made it clear that it wants to really focus on the younger generation amid internal concerns that it is struggling to attract and keep the attention of teens and 20-somethings. Mark Zuckerberg himself said in October that he wanted “serving young adults” to be some teams’ “north star.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is co-leading the investigative effort with Nebraska’s AG, said in a press release that Meta “failed to protect young people on its platforms and instead chose to ignore or, in some cases, double down on known manipulations that pose a real threat to physical and mental health exploiting children in the interest of profit.”
She vowed that the coalition would “get to the bottom of this company’s engagement with the young users, identify any unlawful practices, and end the abuses for good.”