Instagram boss Adam Mosseri is due to testify for the first time before the Senate subcommittee on Wednesday as lawmakers quiz him on the app’s impact on children’s mental health.
Mosseri is the best known figure in the Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, testifying before members of Congress since Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked hundreds of internal documents.
Some of these files showed that the company knew how Instagram can harm mental health and body image, especially among teenagers.
“After bombastic reports about the toxic impacts of Instagram, we want to hear directly from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that send poisonous content to children, leading them into an ambush, and what it will do to make its platform more secure,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the Subcommittee of Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, in a press release.
Blumenthal had already summoned Mosseri or the CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, to answer questions about Instagram’s impact on children.
Mosseri will argue that the platform has long worked to ensure the well-being of its teen users and shows support for government regulation of social media with regard to children, according to his previous comments.
“In addition to ensuring that young people are safe on Instagram, we believe it’s important to support users who are facing issues with mental health and well-being,” Mosseri said in the comments.
“Sometimes young people come to Instagram dealing with difficult things in their lives. I believe the social network can help many of them at these times.”
He should also cite internal studies to support this statement and highlight how Instagram relies on outside organizations and experts to report changes to its apps.
“We care deeply about teens on Instagram, which is why we research complex things like bullying and social comparison to make changes,” the comments say.
Before this week’s hearing, Instagram released a new tool called Take a Break (take a break, in translation), which tries to encourage users to take some time away from the platform after they’ve scrolled for a certain period.
The company also said that it will take a “stricter approach” to the content it recommends to teens and actively target them to different topics, such as architecture and travel destinations, if they are concentrating on something — any type of content — for a long time. time.
In addition, the social network is testing a new parent education center and a tool that lets them see how much time their kids spend on Instagram and set usage limits.
Facebook tried to discredit Haugen and said congressional testimony and reports on the documents mischaracterized the company’s actions.
But the weight of Haugen’s disclosures pressured the company to rethink launching a children’s version of Instagram for children under 13 years old.
The disclosures also helped spur a series of congressional hearings on how tech products impact children, featuring executives from Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat parent Snap, and now Instagram.
In September, lawmakers held a hearing with Facebook’s head of global security, Antigone Davis, where authorities questioned her about Instagram’s effects on children.
While Davis said the company was “looking for ways to launch more polls” — something that she said could give the platform a different image — she was criticized for not agreeing to release more insider information about the social network.
Members of Congress showed rare bipartisanship when criticizing tech companies on the issue. Some lawmakers are pushing for a law aimed at increasing children’s online privacy and reducing apparent reliance on multiple platforms. Despite this, it is not clear when or if such legislation will be passed.
Reference: CNN Brasil