Instagram boss Adam Mosseri is determined to testify before US lawmakers On Wednesday, an appearance masquerading as the photo-sharing app calls for an in-depth investigation of its effects on young people’s mental health.
The Senate hearing, titled “Protecting Kids Online: Instagram and Reforms for Young Users,” will focus on what the Meta-owned company knows about the impact of its service on young people.
Mosseri’s testimony comes at an uncomfortable moment for Instagram and Meta, formerly known as Facebook. Frances Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook who turned whistleblower, leaked a collection of internal research to Congress and the US Securities and Exchange Commission before leaving the company in May.
The documents served as the basis for a series of stories into which it fell. wall street journal, including how the social network’s own research showed Instagram to be “toxic” for teenage girls, worsening body image issues and suicidal thoughts. Meta says the research is inaccurate and that Instagram helps teens connect with family and friends.
Earlier in the week, an international coalition of scientists and academics asked META CEO Mark Zuckerberg to make his company’s research public. The group also asked the company to contribute to external research projects and establish an external body to oversee youth mental health issues on its platforms.
“You and your organizations have a moral and ethical obligation to align your internal research on children and adolescents with established standards for evidence in mental health sciences,” the group said. a letter to Zuckerberg. Meta called for “an industry-wide effort” to address the issue.
Senators may find Mosseri testifying for the first time uncomfortable. In recent hearings, lawmakers have shown rare bipartisanship in bashing social media companies, though often for different reasons.
The hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security begins Wednesday, December 8 at 11:30 a.m. PT/2:30 p.m. ET.
what to expect
Mosseri will push for the creation of an industry body to determine best practices such as how to verify a user’s age and the creation of parental controls. Reuters, which obtained a copy of the testimony of the executive before the hearing. Companies like Instagram must “comply with these standards” in order to earn protection under Section 230, a federal law that protects online platforms from liability for user-generated content.
Citing a survey by Forrester, Mosseri also noted that it appears that more teens are using the short-form video app TikTok and Google-owned YouTube than Instagram.
He will also point to new Instagram tools, including a feature that reminds people to take a break from the platform, to demonstrate that the company is serious about the mental health of its users.
Like other social media executives who have spoken to Congress, Mosseri will point out that he is a parent himself to give personal resonance to his testimony.
None of this will likely pacify lawmakers, who have become increasingly belligerent with technical officials. Keep an eye out for censors Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey, both Democrats, and Republican Marsha Blackburn to catch Mosseri’s feet on fire.
“Following the blustery reports about Instagram’s toxic effects, we’d like to hear directly from the company’s leadership about why it uses powerful algorithms that push toxic content down the rabbit hole to take kids to dark places.” and what it will do to make its platform secure.” Blumenthal said a statement before the hearing,
In September, Antigone Davis, who runs Facebook’s global security operations, appeared before the same subcommittee. The Senate panel also held hearings in October with executives from Snapchat, TikTok and Google-owned YouTube about online child safety. In November, a group of state attorneys general said it is investigating Whether Meta violates state consumer protection laws Promote Instagram for kids and teens Despite knowing the loss of service.