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States launch bipartisan investigation into Instagram's effects on kids

2021-11-18 17:46 by
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Instagram's parent-company Meta is being probed by a consortium of US states over allegations that it supplied the photo-sharing platform to children despite knowing of potential harm, in fresh trouble for the scandal-hit giant, officials said Thursday.

The group includes prosecutors from at least 10 states, including California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont. They are examining whether Meta violated consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

The probe will examine the techniques Meta employs to encourage kids to use and engage with its platforms, as well as "the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement," the attorneys general said.

"Facebook, now Meta, has 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," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is co-leading the states' investigation, said in a statement.

After Instagram's internal research on the risks to teenagers' mental health was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in September, lawmakers and regulators renewed calls for Meta to scrap its plans to launch a version of the app for kids 12 and under. (Instagram, like most social media apps, prohibits users younger than 13 because of federal privacy law.) Shortly afterward, Meta said it was putting the project on hold.

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