Instagram chief Adam Mosseri to testify before Senate on adolescent mental health – TechCrunch

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

Mosseri’s next testimony comes after Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote a letter to Facebook CEO (now Meta) Mark Zuckerberg, asking that he or Mosseri attend a Senate hearing.

Mosseri posted a video responding to the announcement of his upcoming Capitol Hill appearance. He discussed the growing concerns about the safety of teens online, then described past actions Instagram has taken to protect young users, such as making young teens’ accounts private by default and restricting the types of ads they see. .

“I will be talking about these issues with Congress pretty soon,” Mosseri said. noted. “These are important questions, but we all have common goals. We all want young people to be safe when they are online.

When reports leaked in September about Instagram’s knowledge of its dangerous effects on teenage girls, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation did not take it lightly. The committee first interviewed Facebook’s global security chief Antigone Davis, who was reluctant to answer direct questions from the Senate. Weeks later, the committee heard testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former civic integrity product manager who leaked thousands of internal documents known as “Facebook Papers.” During his hearing, Haugen told the Senate that Facebook cares more about profits 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 seems to have withheld vital information about adolescent mental health and addiction from us,” Senator Blumenthal wrote. , who chairs the Senate. commission that hosts these hearings. “When I researched specific Instagram and teenage information in an August letter, Facebook provided clearly evasive and misleading answers which have now been directly challenged by Ms. Haugen.”

Now, after hearing from the executives of Snap, TikTok and YouTube last month, the committee will meet again to hear from the Instagram boss himself. Given the committee’s concern over Instagram’s link to the onset of adolescent eating disorders, Mosseri is expected to be asked about the leaks of internal studies conducted by Meta. on Instagram’s impact on teenage girls.

The internal study, obtained by the Wall Street Journal and later published by Meta herself, found that Instagram worsens body image problems for one in three teenage girls, and that teens blame Instagram for the increase in anxiety and depression. Among teens with suicidal thoughts, the study found that 6% of users attributed their desire to kill themselves to Instagram. Additionally, 32% of teenage girls surveyed said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made those feelings worse.

Shortly after the documents were leaked, Mosseri announced that Instagram would put the creation of Instagram Kids on hold. Meta already offers products like Messenger Kids, which allows users under the age of 13 to chat with people approved by their parents.

“Although we maintain the need to develop this experience, we have decided to put this project on hold,” Mosseri wrote. “This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policy makers and regulators, to listen to their concerns and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for young teens online today.”

But critics are skeptical of Meta’s ability to responsibly create an Instagram Kids product. Facebook continues to monitor teens for ad targeting, according to a study released this month.

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

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