In recent days, The Wall Street Journal published a series of highly critical articles on Facebook that did not go unnoticed. Yesterday, specifically, the renowned newspaper accused the social network of knowing that Instagram is toxic and harms teenagers, and to do nothing about it. This statement did not fall on deaf ears and the United States Congress decided to intervene.
According to The Verge, two senators will launch an investigation on this issue. They are the Democrat Richard Blumenthal and the Republican Marsha Blackburn, who are part of the panel of the Commerce Committee that is dedicated to the protection of consumers. The legislators claim to be in contact with a Facebook informant and intend to obtain more testimonies related to the WSJ publications.
The renowned American media criticized Mark Zuckerberg’s company for failing to act on the alarming results of its latest internal studies. According to the report, girls are among the most affected by Instagram toxicity. “We make body image problems worse in one in three teenagers,” mentioned a Facebook document dating from 2019.
What The Wall Street Journal did was put names and numbers to a situation that the same users have been reporting for a long time. Online toxicity, which isn’t really unique to Instagram or Facebook, wasn’t born overnight; but this seems to be the first time that there is political will to confront it. Whether the US senators’ investigation bears fruit or not is a separate story.
Photo by Amir Hosseini on Unsplash
“It is clear that Facebook is incapable of taking responsibility. The reports […] reveal that Facebook’s leadership is based on a growth-at-all costs mindset, which values profits over the health and lives of children and adolescents, ”the lawmakers declared.
The children’s version of Instagram is also in the crosshairs
The Verge also indicates that a group of senators and Democratic representatives sent a letter to Facebook in the last hours. In it, the company is asked to abandon your plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids. This initiative by Zuckerberg and company had caused a strong rejection in public opinion, but from the social network they refused to cancel the project.
At the moment, Facebook has not made any statements regarding the investigation that is being promoted by the United States Congress; and probably won’t either. We will be attentive to the news in relation to this topic.