Following the onslaught of requests, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri will testify in Congress next month because the popular photo-sharing app is under scrutiny by lawmakers for its impact on young people.
Mossery will appear before the Senate Subcommittee on the Week of December 6 as part of a series of discussions on ways to protect children online, assisted by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of D-Connecticut, chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Product. Security and data security, he said Wednesday.
“After Bombshell reports on the toxic effects of Instagram, we want to hear directly from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that drive toxic content to dark places and what it does to make its platform safer.” Blumenthal said in a written statement.
Mossery’s testimony was the first of high-ranking executives at the social media company Meta, formerly known as Facebook, and after filing documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress with a lawyer from former Facebook employee Francis Haugen. A consortium of 17 news organizations, including one, received their revised copies.
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Last month, Blumenthal wrote a letter to Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg asking him or Mossery to testify about the damage to children from the photo and video sharing platform, citing Haugen’s testimony and his leaked Facebook internal documents. Haugen said children who use social media platforms lack good “self-control.”
Blumenthal’s request was one of several requests made by lawmakers to the company after meeting with plans to create Instagram for the children’s app, which he said will use the children’s overall well-being. Demands intensified after Haugen leaked and later testified before Congress.
In a tweet, Mossery said on Wednesday that as a father of three children, young people feel the added responsibility of keeping Instagram safe. Mosseri said he was looking forward to a dialogue with Congress because he had some “shared goals.”
“We all want young people to be safe when they’re online, so I’m looking forward to these conversations,” Mosseri said, “and you’re going to hear a lot more about safety, not just on Instagram, but more broadly on the meta.”
In his tweet, Mosseri said Instagram has new tools, including “hidden words,” that give users more control over what others can say in their direct messages and comments. Hs is also creating tools for parents to help Instagram control how much time their kids spend on the app.
In September, Mossery said Instagram was “pausing” the outrage of parents, advocacy groups and lawmakers, including Blumenthal. That same month, Congress held a hearing with Facebook’s global security chief, Antigone Davis, grilling her about the effects of Instagram on children. Davis told lawmakers that the company does not think Instagram is harmful to teens, and that the company is “looking for ways to release more research.”
A week after the bipartisan State Attorney General announced that he was investigating the meta and Instagram for ignoring his own internal research into the psychological and health effects of the platform children, Mosseri confirmed he would testify.
A Meta spokeswoman called the allegations “false” and said they would demonstrate “a deep misunderstanding of the facts.”
“The challenges of protecting young people online affect the entire industry. We have led the industry in supporting people struggling with bullying and suicidal thoughts, self-injury and eating disorders,” the company said in a statement.