Connecticut joins nationwide investigation into Instagram’s impact on children, young adults

Connecticut

FILE – This Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, file photo shows the Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device in New York. Bowing to pressure from lawmakers, critics, the media and child development experts, Facebook said Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, it will “pause” its work on a kids’ version of its photo-oriented Instagram app. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced Thursday the state joined a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook.

Tong accuses Facebook of “providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms.”

Tong and attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont are looking at whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

“As a father of three, I’ve seen firsthand how harmful social media is for our kids, and how difficult it is for parents to manage these risks. Facebook knew that its platforms were associated with increased risks to physical and mental health for young people, including depression, eating disorders, and suicide. But they kept pushing this content and continued to manipulate their algorithms to keep young people engaged. Our investigation seeks full access to exactly what Facebook—now Meta—knew and precisely what techniques they deployed to keep our kids online. I am prepared to use the full weight of Connecticut’s strong consumer protection laws to hold them accountable.”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong

Techniques used by Meta to allegedly “increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement” are among the targets of the investigation, Tong’s office said. 

This comes as Meta’s internal research shows Instagram is “associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.”

In May, 44 attorneys general urged Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13. 

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