Instagram boss to testify in Congress on child safety issues

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The head of Instagram is scheduled to testify before Congress next month to respond to mounting questions about the app’s effects on younger users sparked by a Wall Street Journal investigation, an aide to Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on Wednesday.

Adam Mosseri, who has run Instagram for a little more than three years, is due to appear before the Senate’s consumer protection subcommittee during the week of Dec. 6. Mr. Mosseri previously led the news feed team for Facebook. Both apps are now part of Meta Platforms Inc., the new name for parent Facebook Inc.

The testimony follows an article in September in the Journal’s Facebook Files series showing that the company’s internal research found Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of young users, particularly teenage girls with body-image concerns.

The article prompted lawmakers and others to voice concerns about the platform’s effects on young people’s mental health. Soon after, Meta’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, appeared in a contentious, three-hour Senate hearing about the internal research. During the hearing, she said the company strongly disagreed with the Journal’s characterization of the research.

“After bombshell reports about Instagram’s toxic impacts, we want to hear straight from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that push poisonous content to children driving them down rabbit holes to dark places, and what it will do to make its platform safer,” Sen. Blumenthal said in a statement Wednesday.

In a video posted on Twitter Wednesday, Mr. Mosseri said he had three young boys who would eventually grow up and use the internet. As a result, he said, he was invested in online safety. “These are hotly contested subjects and they’re being debated from the halls of Congress to the dining room table and back right now,” he said in the video.

He added: “I’m going to be talking about these issues with Congress relatively soon.”

In the wake of the Journal’s report and congressional criticism, Instagram suspended its plans for a children’s version of the Instagram app, so the company could more extensively listen to the concerns of parents and government officials, Mr. Mosseri said at the time. The New York Times earlier reported that Mr. Mosseri planned to testify.

 

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