A couple of weeks back, Facebook came under intense fire as its former employee Frances Haugen made a big revelation about the company’s stance on picking profit over its users.
In numerous documents leaked by her was one that has to do with the company’s sister social media platform Instagram.
In the published document, the company is well aware that its platform is detrimental to the mental wellbeing of young individuals but chose to not act on it.
Now, a group of US states is now investigating the adverse effect of Instagram on children as well as its potential risk to them.
The group is made up of both Democrat and Republican states in the US all of which are investigating both Instagram and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, in order to determine if consumer protection was broken in any way.
A Meta spokesperson denied the allegation on Thursday that their platforms are unhealthy to individuals.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat who first announced the inquiry, tweeted: “Facebook, or Meta, has known Instagram is linked to depression, eating disorders & suicide among young people.”
“We will identify if any laws were broken and end the abuse for good.”
Another big political figure is Nebraska Attorney General Dough Peterson who is a Republican, who stated that the companies treat children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction.
“These social media platforms are extremely dangerous and have been proven to cause both physical and mental harm in young people,” added New York Attorney General Letitia James.
However, Meta’s spokesperson pushed back against the consortium’s allegations.
You should also note that Facebook which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp rebranded itself this past month to Meta after a series of allegations and scandals.
Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp changed its name to Meta last month after a series of scandals.
“These accusations are false and demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of the facts,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“While challenges in protecting young people online impact the entire industry, we’ve led the industry in combating bullying and supporting people struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-injury, and eating disorders,” he added.
Frances Haugen made an explosive revelation about the company’s operations especially picking profit over its users’ safety which ultimately led to the company’s boss Mark Zuckerberg being grilled nonstop by US lawmakers.
Even though a user must be at least 13 before being allowed on Instagram for example, the company has admitted that it knows some users who are even younger than that.
Is Meta being targeted?
When Meta’s CEO Zuckerberg responded to Frances Haugen’s leaks he said something intriguing.
“If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we’re effectively sending the message that it’s safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you.”
What Zuckerberg was essentially saying is if companies get whacked for conducting research into the effects of their products – they won’t conduct the research at all.
Instagram however isn’t the only app favored among teens. There are other biog platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat.
However, the impact of these two on teens isn’t well documented because the companies that own the platforms failed or just outright refuse to publish their findings – that’s if they conducted any.
Meta on the other hand isn’t happy about the fact that its platforms are being singled out of the many just because it tried to understand the impact of its products on its users.
However, Instagram has been accused of intentionally having “unattainable” beauty standards constantly shoved down the throats of its users which has led to younger individuals suffering from body dysmorphia and depression.
However, it would be worse if social media companies just outright stopped looking through their data to analyze how their products and platforms are being used especially by younger people.