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Facebook research shows company knows Instagram harms teens, US senators say



US senators told Facebook on Thursday its plan to better protect young users on its apps, drawing on leaked internal research showing the social media giant was aware that its Instagram app How it harmed the mental health of adolescents.

The hearing before the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee was convened after the Wall Street Journal earlier this month published several stories about how Facebook knew Instagram made some teenage girls feel especially badly about their self-image. has done. Facebook this week halted plans for Instagram Kids aimed at pre-teens, following mounting opposition to the project.

Facebook’s global head of security Antigone Davis disputed the WSJ’s findings of the committee and research documents during the hearing, saying the company was working to release additional internal studies in an effort to be more transparent about its findings.

“This research is a bang,” said Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal during the hearing. “This is powerful, amusing, persuasive evidence that Facebook is aware of the harmful effects of its site on children, and that it has concealed those facts and findings.”

“IG stands for Instagram, but it also stands for Insta-greed,” said Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

Senators pressed Davis on a number of key topics, including the extent to which Facebook collects data on users under the age of 13, the extent to which the company views young users as a growth area and to confirm whether Does it know that Instagram drives some kids to contemplate suicide.

Davis reiterated that children under the age of 13 weren’t allowed on Facebook, with the company’s research adding 0.5 percent of teens linked their “suicidal thoughts” to Instagram, which was lower than the figures reported by the journal.

“You’ve cherry-picked the piece of research that you think helps your spin right now,” said Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, who asked Facebook to release its full research on the relationship between Instagram and youth suicide. demanded.

A second hearing is planned for Tuesday and will feature a Facebook whistleblower. The whistleblower is expected to reveal his identity in a recorded interview for the TV news program “60 Minutes” on Sunday, in which a preview described the woman as a former Facebook employee, who has posted thousands of pages. left with the research.

Davis said on Thursday that Facebook would not retaliate against whistleblowers for sharing confidential documents with senators.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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