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Head of Instagram to face Senate panel over potential harms for young users

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, will face lawmakers Wednesday for a hearing about the potential harms of social media use for young people.

The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security will convene the hearing at 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and it will mark the first time Mosseri has testified before Congress.

“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,” subcommittee Chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement.

“I appreciate Mr. Mosseri voluntarily coming to the subcommittee and hope that he will support specific legislative reforms and solutions, particularly in its immensely potent algorithms,” Blumenthal added. “My conversations with parents have deeply moved me to fight for such reforms and demand answers that the whole nation is seeking.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the subcommittee, added, “Instagram’s repeated failures to protect children’s privacy have already been exposed before the U.S. Senate.”

“Now, it is time for action,” Blackburn said. “I look forward to discussing tangible solutions to improve safety and data security for our children and grandchildren.”

The hearing comes amid mounting controversies for Instagram and its parent company, Meta, after a whistleblower alleged blatant disregard from company executives over the potential harms of the social media platform for young users. Documents leaked to the Wall Street Journal earlier this year by whistleblower Frances Haugen cited the company’s own internal research that reportedly said Instagram made body image worse for one in three teenage girls.

On Tuesday, just ahead of the hearing, Mosseri announced a slew of updates to Instagram that aim to protect teens and young users on the app. Among them is the “Take a Break” feature — which encourages young users to take a break from Instagram if they have spent a long time scrolling — and a hub of tools for parents and guardians set to roll out early next year.

In late September, Instagram announced plans to pause development of its “Instagram Kids” platform meant for children under the age of 13 in the wake of the Wall Street Journal investigation.

“While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project,” Mosseri said in a statement at the time. “This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators to listen to their concerns and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.”

Wednesday’s hearing is the fifth in a series led by Blackburn and Blumenthal specifically related to social media companies and the potential dangers children face online. The hearing will be live-streamed on the Senate commerce committee’s website.

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