Facebook research shows the company knew about Instagram damage to teenagers, senators say

Sept. 30 (Reuters) – U.S. Senators grilled Facebook Inc (FB.O) on Thursday about its plans to better protect young users in its apps, drawing on internal leaked research that showed the social media Giant knew how his Instagram app helped adolescents’ mental health.

The hearing before the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee came after the Wall Street Journal released several reports earlier this month about how Facebook knew Instagram was causing some teenage girls in particular to develop poor self-image. This week, with growing opposition to the project, Facebook put plans for Instagram Kids aimed at teenage children on hold. Continue reading

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global security chief, denied the committee’s and WSJ’s conclusions from the research papers during the hearing, saying the company was working on releasing additional internal studies to gain more transparency on its findings. Continue reading

“This research is a bomb,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, during the hearing. “The evidence is strong, compelling and compelling that Facebook knows about the harmful effects of its website on children and has withheld those facts and insights.”

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

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) watches Antigone Davis, Director of the Global Head of Safety at Facebook (not pictured) testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security. on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, September 30, 2021. Tom Brenner / Pool via REUTERS

The senators pushed Davis on several important topics, including the identifiable data Facebook collects on users under the age of 13, how the company sees young users as an area of ​​growth, and whether it knew Instagram was making some kids think about suicide.

Davis reiterated that children under the age of 13 are not allowed on Facebook, adding that 0.5% of teenagers in the company’s research linked their “suicidal thoughts” to Instagram, less than the numbers reported by the journal .

“You picked some piece of research that you think will help you with this,” said Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, calling on Facebook to publish its full research on the links between Instagram and juvenile suicide.

A second hearing is scheduled for Tuesday and will include a Facebook whistleblower. The whistleblower is expected to reveal her identity on Sunday in a recorded interview for the TV news program “60 Minutes”, in which the woman was previewed as a former Facebook employee who had gone through tens of thousands of pages of research . Continue reading

Davis said Thursday that Facebook would not take revenge on the whistleblower for sharing confidential documents with the senators.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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