Senate compares Facebook to ‘cigarette industry’ for hiding Instagram risk from teens

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On September 30, Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of security, was grilled by the US Senate during a hearing on the company’s products and their effects on teens.

Following a series of Wall Street Journal exposures based on internal Facebook leaks, including one that showed studies revealing Instagram’s negative impacts on children’s mental health, the Commerce Subcommittee, Senate Science and Transportation held a hearing on September 30.

Senators have been harsh in their criticism of Facebook, focusing on the research and pointing to the company’s attempts to cover it up from the prospect of the hearing.

“Facebook is well aware of the negative effects Instagram’s design and algorithms have on the youth of our society, but it has always prioritized its own rapid growth over basic child safety. This research is a bomb. This is powerful, dramatic and fascinating proof that Facebook is aware of the harmful impacts of its site on children, and that it has hidden these facts and findings, ”said Richard Blumenthal, the head of the subcommittee, in his opening comments, The Guardian reported.

Blumenthal said her office did their own research on Instagram, acting like a 13-year-old girl and following eating disorder-related accounts to see what Instagram might recommend. He concluded that the platform drove the account further down the rabbit hole of potentially dangerous content.

Several senators have linked Facebook to the cigarette industry. Facebook. According to Blumenthal, Facebook has “embraced the great tobacco playbook.”

Davis has been asked several times about the data the organization collects on young users and whether the company sees it as an area for growth. She pointed out that children under 13 are not allowed to use Facebook and said the number of teens who linked “suicidal thoughts” to Instagram in the study was lower than the statistics cited by the Journal.

Background

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, the research that boosted the audience was commissioned by Instagram, a Facebook affiliate, and found that the photo app could harm girls’ mental health over issues. such as body image and self-esteem.

Last week, Facebook’s head of research responded to the WSJ’s findings, saying research indicating Instagram is dangerous for young girls was “just not accurate.” However, Instagram Kids, a program he was developing for users under the age of 13, was suspended.

Facebook released two research slideshows just hours before the hearing, saying it was the “primary focus” of the WSJ’s “distortion” of its work. The Wall Street Journal responded by releasing the set of slides, which gave a grim picture of what Facebook knew about Instagram’s impact on teens.

The September 30 hearing demonstrated that Instagram and the mental health revelations have had an impact on Facebook. Although Davis said Instagram will continue to talk to parents and decision-makers about children’s use of the app, the audience said any new Facebook product released for the under-13 market would face challenges. a bombardment of political resistance.

Image: AP / Unsplash


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