Nine US states have opened investigations to examine the impact of Instagram on teens and the potential harm the service can do to them. Authorities want to find out if Meta is breaking the laws of their respective states by promoting Instagram to children and adolescents, “knowing that its use is associated with harm to physical and mental health,” said Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts.
A coalition of state attorneys general is seeking to investigate methods Meta is using to increase the frequency of use of the app and the length of time young people spend on it. The procedure took place following a series of publications Wall Street Journal; based on the documents that provided the former employee of the company Frances Haugen (Frances Haugen). According to these documents, the company itself conducted an internal investigation and found out that Instagram has a controversial effect on the psyche of young people, but Meta refuses to admit it publicly.
“Today I am co-leading a nationwide coalition to get to the bottom of this company’s engagement with young users; identify any unlawful practices, and end these abuses for good,” Healey said in a statement. “Meta can no longer ignore the threat that social media can pose to children for the benefit of their bottom line”.
On the one hand, some lonely users reported positive effects of Instagram; on the other hand, the service increases the level of anxiety among teenage girls. According to the Financial Times, the growth rate of Meta services in key markets like the United States is slowing. Young people already spend less time on Instagram and generate less content, favoring competitors like TikTok.
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Instagram’s impact on teens
Meta continues to deny everything. A spokesman said Thursday: “These accusations are false and demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of the facts. While protecting young people online affects the entire industry; we are leading the way in countering bullying and supporting people who are struggling; with suicidal ideation, self-harm and eating disorders”.
Also, Meta is currently working on “new features to help people who face negative social comparisons; or body image problems”: as well as new parental control tools. And in September, due to the negative reaction from the public and government officials; the development of Instagram Kids, a special version of the application for children under 13, was suspended. However, the project was not completely canceled; according to the company, the pause will give it more time to take into account the feedback from politicians, parents and fighters for children’s rights.