Washington (September 15, 2021) – Following reports, Facebook has conducted and reviewed research showing a link between Instagram and mental health issues among young users, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) And Representatives Kathy Castor (FL-14) and Lori Trahan (MA-03) wrote today to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, demanding answers and calling on the company to drop its plans to develop an Instagram platform for children. The recently revealed internal research on Facebook includes data on links between Instagram use and body image issues, suicidal thoughts and other adolescent mental health issues on the platform.
“Children and teens are particularly vulnerable populations online, and these findings paint a clear and devastating picture of Instagram as an app that poses a significant threat to the well-being of young people. As the internet, and especially social media, becomes more and more entrenched in the lives of children and teens, we are deeply concerned that your business continues to fail in its obligation to protect young users and has not yet made a commitment to put an end to its plans to launch new platforms targeting children and adolescents ”, lawmakers said in their letter to Zuckerberg. “The recently uncovered evidence published in the the Wall Street newspaper highlights Facebook’s responsibility to fundamentally change its approach to engaging with children and teens online. It starts with Facebook abandoning its plan to launch a new version of Instagram for children.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.
In April, Senators Markey and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) And Representatives Castor and Trahan wrote to Zuckerberg about Facebook’s announcement that the company was “exploring” plans to develop a version of Instagram for children and voiced concerns about Facebook’s past failures to protect children on Facebook’s Messenger Kids app. In May, after the company failed to make meaningful commitments to protect children online, lawmakers released a statement calling on Facebook to abandon its plans for a children’s platform. Previously, Senator Markey has repeatedly insisted on Facebook for his failure to protect children and adolescents, most notably during Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 appearance before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.