Senate Panel Grills Instagram CEO Over Lack Of Online Protection For Kids
The United States Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security grilled Instagram Chief Executive Officer Adam Mosseri over the platform’s failure to shield kids and teens from harm.
The hearing comes amidst growing anger at tech giants such as Facebook – which owns Instagram – for prioritizing profits over protecting its users from toxic content like hate speech and misinformation.
In his opening statements, Subcommittee Chair Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) tore into Mosseri for skirting responsibility for what posters share.
“The time for self-policing and self-regulation is over. Self-policing depends on trust, and the trust is gone,” Blumenthal said. “The magnitude of these problems requires both and broad solutions and accountability which has been lacking so far.”
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Blumenthal also asked Mosseri to cancel plans to develop a version of Instagram for young children.
Mosseri responded that online safety is a top priority not only for him but for all social media companies.
“Keeping young people safe online is not just about one company,” Mosseri said. “We all want teens to be safe online. The internet isn’t going away, and I believe there’s important work that we can do together – industry and policymakers – to raise the standards across the internet to better serve and protect young people.”
But lawmakers were not buying it.
“Facebook’s own researchers have been warning management, including yourself Mr. Mosseri, for years about Instagram’s harmful impacts on teen’s mental health and well-being,” Blumenthal said. ‘Facebook knew, it did the research, and the studies but it continued to profit.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), the ranking Republican member on the Subcommittee, added that “we fully share the goal of protecting kids and teens online but what we aren’t sure about is how the half-measures you’ve introduced are going to get us to the point where we need to be.”
She also demanded that Mosseri answer for the damage that misuse of Instagram has caused to teens and their families.
“You have broken these children’s lives,” Blackburn said, “and you have broken these parents’ hearts.”
Watch the full hearing below:
Instagram CEO testifies before Senate subcommittee about the app's effect on kids, safety protections https://t.co/2NYgWEArUF
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) December 8, 2021
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