Instagram investigated by US states on its impact on children | Social Media News

The investigation involves at least nine states and comes at a time when Facebook is under intense scrutiny over its approach to children.

A bipartisan coalition of U.S. attorneys general said on Thursday it had opened an investigation into Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms, for promoting its subsidiary Instagram to children despite potential harm.

The investigation, involving at least nine states, comes at a time when Facebook is under intense scrutiny over its approach to children and young adults.

Attorneys general are investigating whether the company violated consumer protection laws and put young people at risk, they said in emailed statements.

“Facebook, now Meta, has failed to protect young people on its platforms and has instead chosen 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 interests of profit,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a press release.

A Meta spokesperson responded in a statement that “these accusations are false and demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of the facts.”

“As the challenges of protecting young people online impact the entire industry, we have led the industry in addressing bullying and supporting those struggling with suicidal thoughts, l ‘self-harm and eating disorders,’ the spokesperson said.

The company continues to develop parental supervision controls and explore ways to provide age-appropriate experiences for teens by default, they added.

Instagram, like other social media sites, has rules prohibiting children under 13 from joining the platform, but said it was aware it had users of that age.

In September, the company announced it was suspending plans for a kids’ version of Instagram, amid growing opposition to the project.

The move follows a Wall Street Journal report that said internal documents, leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, showed the company knew Instagram could have harmful effects on the mental health of teenage girls. Facebook said the leaked documents were used to misrepresent the company’s work.

In previous months, a group of more than 40 state attorneys had written to the company asking it to drop the child-focused enforcement plans and lawmakers raised concerns.

States involved in the investigation include Nebraska, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, New York and New Jersey.