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November 18, 2021 - Herring Investigating Instagram’s Impact on Young People

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Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

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Herring concerned for safety and wellbeing of children; examining potential violations of consumer protection laws ~

RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. Attorney General Herring joins attorneys general from across the country who are examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

 

“The data continues to show just how damaging and harmful social media can be for young people’s physical and mental health,” said Attorney General Herring. “It’s critical that social media companies do all they can to mitigate any harms caused to young people by prolonged use of their platforms. My top priority is to protect Virginians of all ages, which is why I am joining my colleagues in looking into how Meta promotes Instagram to children.”

             

The investigation targets, among other things, the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement. Today’s announcement follows recent reports revealing that Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.

 

Attorney General Herring has long been concerned about the negative impacts of social media platforms on Virginia’s youngest residents. In May, Attorney General Herring urged Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. October, Attorney General Herring voiced his support for the hearings being conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee addressing protection and safety of kids and teens using social media.

 

Leading the investigation is a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont.

 

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