Senate questions technical officials after Instagram report on teen mental health

Texas News Today

The Senate committee plans to back tech executives on Capitol Hill after an apparent report from The Wall Street Journal about the impact of Facebook’s Instagram platform on teen mental health.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, ranking member of the Senate Trade Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, announced the hearing in an interview on CNBC’s Closing Bell. The hearing will take place within a few weeks, involving representatives from Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Snap and Google-owned YouTube, Blackburn said.

A Blackburn spokesman said the date of the hearing and some of the company’s attendees had yet to be confirmed.

A Journal report said the outlet was based on an internal Facebook document that revealed the company was aware of a significant negative impact of the photo-sharing Instagram app on teenage girls. At a hearing in March, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified by answering questions about children and mental health. According to one study they observed, “connecting with others using social apps can have a positive effect on mental health.”

The study cited in the journal’s report did not show an entirely negative effect, which went against Facebook’s story about mental health. This angered political parties and many lawmakers in parliamentary conference rooms, some of whom urged Facebook to drop plans to build an Instagram product for children.

“What we do know is a lot about this anecdotal information we have about the harms of social media from parents, teachers, pediatricians to children,” Black said. Burn said. “They chose not to publish it.”

According to Blackburn, his employees met a whistleblower on Friday who was working at Facebook and had access to documents reported by the Journal.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have called tech CEOs into Congress several times over the years, but Blackburn said he expects the hearing to stand out because of its bipartisan nature. .. She’s working with Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut, who chairs the subcommittee, and they’re working on rules about how social media can market to kids and protect them online. He said he would consider legislation for the purpose of doing so. , like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA) regulations.

Blumenthal’s reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We are determined to do something bipartisan to protect our children in the virtual space that allows them access to the internet and Zoom to school as needed. You can research, research, and stay safe while you’re online to protect your privacy. “

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on Blackburn’s comments and pointed to a previous blog post in response to a Journal report.

“We’re looking for a way to signal [users] In a blog post, Instagram’s head of public policy, Karina Newton, said, “If you’re seeing this kind of content over and over again, consider a variety of topics.” And by uplifting them, and most people will change the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on how people look. “

Spokesmen for Twitter and Snap declined to comment on the hearing. Representatives for other companies who said Blackburn would be invited did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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