Instagram head Adam Mosseri to testify before Senate on teenage mental health - TechCrunch - Gadgets Price
Wed. Dec 8th, 2021
Instagram head Adam Mosseri to testify before Senate on teenage mental health - TechCrunch

Instagram head Adam Mosseri will testify before the Senate for the first time as part of a series of hearings on online safety for children and teens. According to the New York Times, Mosseri’s hearing will take place on December 6.

Mosseri’s forthcoming testimony comes after Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote a letter to Facebook (now Meta) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking whether he or Mosseri should participate in a Senate hearing.

When reports leaked in September about Instagram’s knowledge of its dangerous effects on teenage girls, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation didn’t take it lightly. The committee first questioned Facebook Global Head of Security Antigone Davis, who was reluctant to answer direct questions from the Senate. Weeks later, the committee heard testimonies from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former civil integrity product manager who leaked thousands of internal documents known as the “Facebook Papers.” During her hearing, Haugen told the Senate that Facebook cares more about profit than user safety.

“I am disappointed that Facebook has not wanted to be completely transparent with me, other members of Congress and the public, and it appears that it has hidden from us vital information about teen mental health and addiction,” wrote President Senator Blumenthal. of the Senate. committee organizing these hearings. “When I sought specific information about Instagram and teens in an August letter, Facebook provided clearly evasive and misleading answers that are now directly disputed by Ms. Haugen.”

Now, after hearing from executives at Snap, TikTok and YouTube last month, the committee is meeting again to hear from the head of Instagram herself. Given the committee’s concerns about Instagram’s link to the emergence of eating disorders in adolescents, Mosseri is expected to be questioned about leaked internal studies Meta conducted about Instagram’s impact on teenage girls.

The internal study, obtained by the Wall Street Journal and later published by Meta herself, found that Instagram exacerbates body image problems for one in three teenage girls, and that teens blame Instagram for increases in anxiety and depression. Among teens with suicidal thoughts, the study says that 6% of users track their desire to die by suicide on Instagram. Additionally, 32% of teen girls surveyed reported that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made those feelings worse.

Shortly after these documents were leaked, Mosseri announced that Instagram would be pausing the build of Instagram Kids. Meta already has products like Messenger Kids, which allow users under 13 to chat with people their parents approve.

“While we insist on the need to develop this experience, we have decided to pause this project,” Mosseri wrote. “This gives us time to work with parents, experts, policy makers and regulators, listen to their concerns and demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens today online.”

But critics are skeptical of Meta’s ability to responsibly build an Instagram Kids product. According to research published this month, Facebook is reportedly continuing to monitor teens for ad targeting. Earlier this summer, Instagram took steps to set young teens’ accounts to private by default and limit ads.

“It is urgent and necessary for you or Mr. Adam Mosseri to testify to set the record straight and give members of Congress and parents a plan on how to protect our children,” Senator Blumenthal wrote to Zuckerberg.

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