Tennessee AG leads investigation into Instagram’s impact on young people

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FILE – In this Nov. 29, 2018, file photo, the Instagram app logo is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles. Political adversaries in Congress are united in outrage against Facebook for privately compiling information that its Instagram photo-sharing service appeared to grievously harm some teens, especially girls, while publicly downplaying the popular platform’s negative impact. Facebook’s head of global safety, Antigone Davis, has been summoned to testify for a hearing Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, by a Senate panel. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III is leading a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly called Facebook, for providing and promoting its Instagram to children and young adults despite knowing the platform’s potential to cause harm to young people.

The investigation follows recent reports revealing that Meta’s internal research shows Instagram use is associated with depression, eating disorders, suicide and other mental harms in young people.

Meta’s techniques to increase young users’ frequency and duration of engagement and the resulting harms caused by extended engagement will be the predominant focus of the investigation.

It is led by attorneys general from Tennessee, Nebraska, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Vermont. The AGs are looking into whether or not the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

In May, Tennessee led a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. This was in part due to concerns over research showing social media can be harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children.

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