Meta is facing an investigation by a group of state attorneys general into the company’s practices with Instagram. The group is looking into the platform’s “techniques” to increase user engagement and the duration of visits among teens and children.
The matter then reached the U.S. Senate where Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified about the company’s business practices. She said the company was unwilling to prioritize the well-being of its users over profits.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is co-leading this new investigation along with state attorneys general from seven states. These include California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont.
The state attorneys general will look into Meta’s possible violations of consumer protection laws
“Facebook, now Meta, has failed to protect young people on its platforms and instead chose to ignore or, in some cases, double down on known manipulations that pose a real threat to physical and mental health – exploiting children in the interest of profit,” AG Healey said in a press release.
“As Attorney General it is my job to protect young people from these online harms. Today I am co-leading a nationwide coalition to get to the bottom of this company’s engagement with young users, identify any unlawful practices, and end these abuses for good. Meta can no longer ignore the threat that social media can pose to children for the benefit of their bottom line.”
This investigation will look into the company’s violations of consumer protection laws in trying to keep kids and teens engaged. Separately, the Ohio attorney general is suing Meta over accusations that its products are harming children and misleading the public. In response, Meta said that this lawsuit is “without merit.”
Some of the attorneys general from this new investigation have previously told Meta to shutter its “Instagram for Kids” project. The company eventually had to pause this project. However, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri is still in favor of a kids’ version of Instagram.
Lawmakers said the company’s decision to pause the project hasn’t done enough. Moreover, they said Meta “must completely abandon” the program.
Meanwhile, Meta is clear that young adults are its core user base. In October, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that catering to such users is the “north star” for some teams.