Senators Announce Probe into Facebook’s Alleged Coverup of its Negative Influence on Children and Teens

September 15, 2021

Today, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn announced an investigation into Facebook’s knowledge and coverup of the harmful effects of Facebook’s Instagram on children and teenagers. The announcement follows a Wall Street Journal investigation which revealed that Facebook’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful to a “sizeable percentage” of its young users, most notably teenage girls. Internally, Facebook knew that Instagram’s effects on young people included increased anxiety and depression, body image issues, and thoughts of suicide. Publicly, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress that Facebook’s research suggested that the use of its social media apps had positive mental health benefits to users. The Wall Street Journal uncovered several documents that “show that Facebook has made minimal efforts to address these issues and plays them down in public.” In response to Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn’s August 2020 request for Facebook to release its internal research on the matter, Facebook sent a six-page letter that did not include the company’s studies. EPIC has fought for transparency and accountability for Facebook’s privacy abuses for over a decade, from filing the original FTC Complaint in 2009 that led to the FTC’s 2012 Consent Order with the company, to moving to intervene in and filing an amicus brief challenging the FTC’s 2019 settlement with Facebook.

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