Instagram will still not abandon Instagram for Kids in a congressional hearing with CEO Adam Mosseri

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After a damaging internal leak Instagram can have a negative impact on the mental health of teenagers, Instagram said it will stop developing its app version plans for children. But on Wednesday, the company revealed that it has not ruled out the possibility of creating a “children’s Instagram” one day.

At the Senate hearing on the impact of Instagram on children and young people on Wednesday, when Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked Instagram CEO Adam Mosseli if he had pledged to permanently stop the development of Instagram for children, Moseli replied:

What I can promise you today is that any child between the ages of 10 and 12—should we try to set up Instagram for kids between the ages of 10 and 12—can access it without explicit parental consent.

In other words, Mosseri said that Instagram may still develop products for children, despite months of intense public outrage and political pressure to abandon these plans.

This exchange revealed a deeper takeaway from the hearing: Instagram-and its parent company Meta (formerly Facebook)-doesn’t seem to think that their products are harmful to children and young people enough to make it need to be completely changed.

Although Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked the company’s internal research, the study showed that one-third of girls who feel bad about their bodies say Instagram makes them feel worse.The study also Show that 13% of U.K. teen users and 6% of U.S. teen users People with suicidal thoughts trace their suicidal wishes to Instagram.

Although Mosseri expressed a thoughtful and serious tone when discussing youth suicide and other topics at the hearing, he minimized the company’s own research, which showed that Instagram can cause depression in teenagers, and denied that Instagram is addictive.

His answer did not seem to reassure the bipartisan American lawmakers at the hearing, who said they believed Instagram was damaging the mental health of teenagers. These lawmakers said they are committed to passing legislation to force Facebook and other technology companies to change their businesses to better protect children.

At a time when more and more American publics are increasingly distrustful of large technology companies, the impact of Instagram on the mental health of young people has become a lightning rod in a wider conversation about regulating social media.

But Facebook and Instagram continue to downplay this harm.

When Blumenthal asked if Mosseri supported legislation to ban social media apps Designed to make certain users addicted, Mosseri replied: “Senator, with all due respect, I don’t believe that research shows that our products are addictive. Research actually shows that out of 12 problems faced by teenagers, 11 of them are struggling Instagram helps more than hurts.”

“We can argue about the meaning of the word’addiction’, but the truth is that teenagers who enter the platform find it difficult, and sometimes even unable to stop,” Blumenthal said.

During the two-and-a-half-hour hearing, another illustrative moment was the back and forth between Mosseri and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Although Cruz used past social media hearings to promote party concerns about the so-called conservative censorship system, this time, lawmakers continue to pay attention to children’s mental health issues.

When Cruz pressured Moseli on Instagram’s internal research on the harm of teenagers with body image problems and suicidal thoughts, Moseli again argued that in general, Instagram makes the lives of teenagers better.

“If we are to have a conversation about this research, I think we need to be clear about its actual content. It actually shows that one-third of the girls who suffer from body image problems find that Instagram makes things worse. This is from the other 23 A slideshow of statistics, where more teenagers find that Instagram makes things better,” Mosseri said.

In subsequent exchanges, Mosseri stated that social media platforms like Instagram “help important sports such as physical positivity to flourish. … It helps to diversify the definition of beauty, which we think is very important. .”

These defenses do not seem to soften the position of the legislators.

“I am a mother; I am a grandmother… I have a 12- and 13-year-old grandson. I have been talking to my parents,” Senator Martha Blackburn (R-TN) in a press conference after the hearing Say. “And we know [in] We hear a lot of stories, so many parents have mentioned the “adverse effects of social media.”

Blackburn called Mosseri’s assertion that Instagram benefits young users more than hurts “shocking” and said that “it does sound unrelated to the situation.”

All this clearly shows that Facebook has lost a great deal of trust in lawmakers. Ten years ago, when Facebook was still in its infancy and considered by many to be a universal social good, the company might have some kindness on Capitol Hill, but after many years the company’s privacy, hate speech, and its platform Other harmful content.

Cruz said: “Tech giants like to use grand and eloquent phrases to bring people together, but the simple reality and the reason so many Americans don’t trust technology giants is because you make money.”

It is still too early to say whether Congress will actually pass legislation to force Facebook and other social media companies to fundamentally change their businesses to better protect teenagers and other users. Currently, there are several bills aimed at enacting stricter privacy laws, penalizing Facebook if it allows destructive content to surface, and requiring Facebook to share more data with external researchers to assess the harm of its products. So far, none of these bills have been passed, or even close to passing.

But this hearing reiterated that Democrats and Republicans are in line with each other, that is, they must act on the topic of how social media hurts teenagers.

Jim Steyer, the founder, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization, has long advocated that Congress pass legislation to better protect children on the platform by protecting their privacy and other measures. He said that despite Congress’s The action is not fast enough, but he believes that Wednesday’s hearing shows that the real legislative momentum is increasing.

“When it comes to Facebook and Instagram, we have seen this movie too many times before-now it’s time for Congress to act on a bipartisan basis, to stop completely,” he said. “But I do think it will happen now.”

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