Ask Facebook to ensure mental health for teen users

On September 30, US lawmakers asked Facebook to commit to addressing growing concerns about the impact of use of Facebook's platforms on the mental health of adolescents.

Facebook icon on phone screen. Photo: AFP
Facebook icon on phone screen. Photo: AFP

During a multi-hour hearing on Capitol Hill, US senators questioned Facebook's CEO of global safety, Antigone Davis, about information from Facebook's internal research showing the impact Negative effects of photo-sharing app Instagram on adolescent girls' mental health.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Facebook's internal research was "strong and reliable" evidence that Facebook, despite knowing the harmful effects of this platform to children, still did not issue warnings.

However, Ms. Davis cited the results of a survey of teenagers about 12 serious psychological problems such as anxiety, sadness and eating disorders, saying that in general, Instagram helps them improve these problems. . She also said that a new series of articles published in the Wall Street Journal cited only part of the research and that these parts provide a "dark and misleading view" of Facebook's operations.

At the hearing, Senator Ed Markey asked Facebook to commit to making all research public and not targeting child users under the age of 13. Instead of making specific commitments, Ms. Davis said that Facebook's products help enrich the lives of young people by acting as a bridge between them and their family and friends. She said Facebook was looking for ways to share more of its findings, but would "take privacy into consideration".

Earlier, in September, Senator Richard Blumenthal of the Democratic Party and Senator Marsha Blackburn of the Republican Party, Chairman and senior member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Privacy Senate data has announced its intention to conduct a bipartisan investigation into the negative impact of Instagram on teenagers. The investigation is expected to begin in October.

The announcement comes days after the Wall Street Journal published an internal Facebook report that found that more than 30% of teenage girls who use Instagram say the platform makes them increasingly vulnerable. feeling unsatisfied with his body. The leaked report also shows that 13% of underage users in the UK and 6% of users in the US are contemplating suicide.

In August, Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn urged Facebook to release an internal report on Instagram's negative impact on teen mental health and how the platform collects people's data. children to advertise products. Earlier, in May, these two lawmakers also held a hearing on how to protect children on social networking platforms.

Under pressure from US congressmen and child activists around the world, Instagram on September 27 stopped planning to launch a version of "Instagram Kids" for children under the age of 13. However, the company still insists building this application is the right thing to do.

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