Facebook executives testify at Senate hearing after Instagram was said to be harmful to teen mental health

Texas News Today

Facebook has agreed to send Antigone Davis, global head of security, to testify on September 30 at the Senate Trade Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed with CNBC.

The Washington Post reported the news early Thursday.

The hearing will take place after Facebook published a series of reports detailing internal discussions, based on documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal. One of the articles that sparked anger among lawmakers revealed that Facebook conducted a survey that showed the Instagram app had a negative impact on the mental health of many teenage girls. Members from both sides sought a response from Facebook.

In a blog post following the report, Instagram’s head of public policy, Karina Newton, wrote that the company is looking for ways to steer users to more uplifting content.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, a ranking member of the subcommittee, said she expects CNBC to join representatives from Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Snap and Google-owned YouTube last week. It is not yet clear which companies other than Facebook will be witnesses in next week’s hearing.

A spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement to CNBC that the company is working to set a date to testify about its privacy and child safety policies. According to YouTube, the company previously knew the date of the September 30 hearing was on September 10, but said it was later known to other witnesses. YouTube requested additional time to prepare, but said the request was denied.

A Snap spokesperson also said that the company will continue to work with the committee.

Spokespersons for the other nominated companies did not immediately provide comment.

Blackburn said in a previous CNBC interview that his staff spoke with Facebook whistleblowers using similar documents provided to the magazine. According to Blackburn’s unnamed aide, the Post reported Thursday that the whistleblower would be released by the end of the year, perhaps by testifying before Congress.

Spokesmen for Blackburn and Facebook did not immediately respond to whistleblower requests for comment on alleged potential testimony.

In a data- and antitrust-focused hearing earlier this week, lawmakers instead lashed out at Facebook’s privacy policy executives over journal articles. A hearing next Thursday will give many of those same senators another chance to ask questions on Facebook.

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