Senate Grills Instagram Head After Whistleblower Leaks Data Showing Known Harm to Children

Photo: Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty

WASHINGTON DC, December 9, 2021 ~ Wednesday, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri testified before the US Senate, and was grilled by lawmakers from both parties for the negative impact the social media platform has on children.

The hearing before the US Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security came after a whistleblower from Facebook leaked internal data from Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, that showed the company knew Instagram had negative impacts on young users.

I believe that the time for self-policing and self-regulation is over,” said Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. “Some of the big tech companies have said ‘Trust us.’ That seems to be what Instagram is saying in your testimony. But self-policing depends on trust. The trust is gone.”


December 8, 2021 ~ WJR Senior News Analyst Chris Renwick talks with Guy Gordon about Instagram Head Adam Mosseri standing before a Senate committee about the company harming young people on social media.

The internal research stated that Instagram led one in three teenagers to feel worse about their body images, and led up to 16 percent of teenagers in Britain to have suicidal thoughts.

This contradicts previous public statements made by officials from Meta who have denied claims that Instagram is harmful to the mental health of younger individuals.

You’re the new tobacco, whether you like it or not,” said Utah Senator Mike Lee to Mosseri. “And you’ve got to stop selling the ‘tobacco’ to kids. Don’t let them have it. Don’t give it to them.”

Mosseri joined Facebook in 2008 as a designer, moving up in the company till he was named head of Instagram in October 2018, just weeks following the resignation of Instagram Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

Mosseri was pressed on sharing algorithmic data, and to support legislation on stronger security and privacy movements for children online.

I recognize that many in this room have deep reservations about our company,” said Mosseri. “But I want to assure you that we do have the same goal. We all want teens to be safe online.”

This comes after a Tuesday update to Instagram, which encourages teenagers, as they use the platform, to take breaks from the application to do other activities. The company also announced parental controls, set to release in early 2022, which the company says aims to protect younger users from sensitive content.

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