US states investigate Instagram for ‘wreaking havoc’ on teens’ mental health

A bipartisan coalition of US state attorneys general has opened an investigation into Facebook for promoting Instagram to children despite the company’s own awareness of its potential harms.

The investigation, which involves at least eight states, comes as Facebook faces increasing scrutiny over its approach to children and young adults. Documents leaked by a former employee turned whistleblower recently revealed the company’s own internal research showed the platform negatively affected the mental health of teens, particularly regarding body image issues.

The investigation will cover whether the company violated consumer protection laws and put young people at risk and will be led by a coalition of attorneys general from California, 佛罗里达, Kentucky, 马萨诸塞州, Nebraska, 新泽西州, Tennessee and Vermont.

“时间过长, has ignored the havoc that Instagram is wreaking on the mental health and wellbeing of our children and teens,” said California’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, in an emailed statement. “Enough is enough. We’ve undertaken this nationwide investigation to get answers about Meta’s efforts to promote the use of this social media platform to young Californians – and to determine if, in doing so, Meta violated the law.”

Facebook, 现在 known as Meta, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

在九月, the company said it was pausing its plans for a version of Instagram designed for kids, amid growing opposition to the project.

Facebook has continued to face blowback over the internal documents leaked by its former employee Frances Haugen. 在九月, the company’s global head of safety faced a grilling from US lawmakers about the impacts of the company’s products on children, and last month a global alliance of child protection campaigners and experts sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg urging him to share the company’s research on the topic.

Facebook has said the leaked documents have been used to paint a false picture of the company’s work.

在五月, a group of more than 40 state attorneys general wrote to the company asking it to abandon plans for the kids-focused app.