State Attorney Generals Launch Investigation into Instagram’s Effects on Kids

Young person on Instagram

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.

The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.

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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody Investigating Meta/Facebook Marketing Practices Related to Minors

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) announced she is launching an investigation against Meta, the company previously known as Facebook before its recent rebrand. Moody is joining seven other attorneys general in launching an investigation into its targeted marketing practices toward children and teenagers.

“We have serious concerns about how social media is impacting the lives of young people in this country, and as a mother, I want to know how Facebook/Meta is targeting youth and what strategies this Big Tech giant is using to entice children and teens to lengthen engagement on its platforms,” Moody said in an official statement. “I am proud to lead these efforts with our partner states to find out if Meta violated any consumer protection laws and put our children at risk.”

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Facebook Changes Its Name to ‘Meta’

Illustration of two people looking out on a design of Meta, Facebook's new name

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday the tech giant was changing its name to “Meta.”

Zuckerberg announced the name change at the Facebook Connect 2021 conference. The new name reflects Zuckerberg’s goal to reorient his social media company to a technology conglomerate with several different products beyond the Facebook social network, focusing on “metaverse” technology. 

The “metaverse” is a virtual environment in which individuals can interact with one another through avatars and across multiple platforms and devices. Facebook called it a “new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality” in which people interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person.”

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