US Senators Blast Facebook for Concealing Instagram's Risks to Teens

© REUTERS / Johanna GeronThe Facebook logo is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019.
The Facebook logo is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
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Senators demanded pledges from the company to make changes after grilling Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis in a hours-long Capitol Hill hearing called over negative findings that the platform’s own research warned on the harm that photo-sharing app Instagram can have on teenage girl’s well-being.
US lawmakers have fired a barrage of criticism at a top Facebook executive on how its Instagram photo-sharing platform impacts teens’ mental health, but Facebook has instead offered assurances that the sites are safe.

“This research is a bombshell. It is powerful, gripping, riveting evidence that Facebook knows of the harmful effects of its site on children, and that it has concealed those facts and findings,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said.

Davis testified to the US Senate Committee that a Wall Street Journal series — based on internal research leaked by a whistleblower at Facebook — had selectively chosen parts of its studies to give an inaccurately dark vision of the company’s work.
She reportedly defended Instagram’s efforts to protect young people, and presented a survey to lawmakers that indicated Instagram as being generally helpful to teens suffering from serious issues like anxiety, sadness and eating disorders.

“On 11 of the 12 issues, teen girls who said they struggled with those issues were more likely to say that Instagram was affirmatively helping them, not making it worse,” said Davis, who delivered her testimony remotely.

The lawmakers accused Facebook of concealing the findings which reported evidence that the company is aware of the platform’s negative impact on mental health.
However, Facebook has defended the impact of its products, saying Instagram has "affirmatively helped" young people.
A Facebook whistleblower is set to testify before senators on Tuesday.
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