Instagram under investigation over the impact of mental health on teens

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Instagram under investigation over the impact of mental health on teens

A bipartisan group of state attorneys general said on Thursday they learned of the mental and emotional harm caused by the service to Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, for promoting their social media app Instagram.

At least 10 states are involved in the investigation, including California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.

Maura Healy, Massachusetts attorney general and one of the leaders of the investigation, said states were investigating whether the company’s actions violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

Facebook, now Meta, has failed to protect young people on its platform and has instead chosen 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,” Ms Healy said.

The move comes after a bunch of documents detailed research from a former employee inside the social media company that suggested teens faced body image issues while using Instagram. The document, titled The Facebook Papers, was shared with journalists in October. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the documents and issues on Instagram with the help of whistle-blower Francis Haugen.

Doug Peterson, Nebraska Attorney General and another leader of the investigation, said the state will “investigate the techniques used by META to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the harm caused by such extended engagement.”

Mr Peterson said in a tweet, “When social media platforms treat our children as mere objects to manipulate for prolonged screen time engagement and data extraction, our consumer protection laws for the state attorney general It becomes mandatory to involve our investigating authority under the

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The states’ investigation adds to regulatory pressure on Meta and other Silicon Valley giants.

Ms. Haugen and public interest groups have filed at least nine complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission, claiming Meta has misled investors about its efforts to protect investors from misinformation and hate. The Federal Trade Commission and dozens of states have filed antitrust lawsuits to break the meta, and members of Congress even vowed to enact privacy, speech and antitrust laws aimed at reining in the power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Is.

Facebook papers spanning thousands of pages and gigabytes of data show a company struggling to deal with a range of issues that come as a byproduct of its sheer scale and billions of users who are misinformed with users around the world. , spanning topics such as addiction and manipulation. , Much of the information came in the form of detailed reports examining the issues set out by the company’s research division.

META states that the research efforts are aimed at improving the company’s products and services to address the issues they point to.

The documents detail that nearly a third of teenage girls in a survey who were already feeling bad about their bodies said that Instagram made them feel worse. “Comparisons on Instagram could change the way young women see and describe themselves,” the documents said.

Meta disputed the characterization of the initial reporting on Instagram’s issues, saying that the story lacked context, omitted important information and was a poor interpretation of data obtained by The Journal. The company argued that on 11 out of 12 wellness issues, teen girls surveyed said Instagram made them feel “better and not worse.”

In a company blog post in September, Facebook’s vice president and head of research Pratiti Raychaudhuri said, “It’s not entirely true that this research shows Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teenage girls.”

In a statement on Thursday, a representative for Meta strongly denied claims made by the state attorney general against Instagram.

“These allegations are false and reflect a deep misunderstanding of facts,” company spokeswoman Lisa Crenshaw said. “Although the challenges of providing youth safety online affect the entire industry, we have led the industry in combating bullying and supporting people struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-injury and eating disorders.”

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

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