OAKLAND (CBS SF) — California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Thursday a nationwide investigation into the company formerly known as Facebook and the impact its app Instagram has on America’s youth.
Bonta and attorney generals all over the country say Meta Platform, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, pushes the social media platform Instagram on children and young adults despite data showing the app harming them both physically and mentally.READ MORE: KPIX Reporters Remember Slain Security Guard Kevin Nishita; 'Just the Kindest Man'
“For too long, Meta has ignored the havoc that Instagram is wreaking on the mental health and well-being of our children and teens,” Bonta said. “Enough is enough. We’ve undertaken this nationwide investigation to get answers about Meta’s efforts to promote the use of this social media platform to young Californians – and to determine if, in doing so, Meta violated the law.”
Among the investigation’s many goals is a focus on how Meta manages to increase “frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement.” Bonta’s office said that reports containing Meta’s internal research on its engagement techniques prompted the investigation, as it showed the company knew its platform increased instances of depression, eating disorders, and even suicide among young people.
The investigation comes after Bonta co-led a bipartisan coalition that expressed support for a U.S. Senate hearing on “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, and Mental Health Harms” last month. It also follows the calls of Bonta and 43 other attorneys back in May that urged Meta to abandon a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13, which the company did.READ MORE: UPDATE: News Crew Security Guard Shot in Oakland Dies From Injuries; Photo of Suspect Vehicle Released
In a statement, Meta spokesperson Liza Crenshaw called the accusations “false” and said they demonstrate “a deep misunderstanding of the facts.”
“While challenges in protecting young people online impact the entire industry, we’ve led the industry in combating bullying and supporting people struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-injury, and eating disorders,” Crenshaw said in the statement.
The state investigations follow a Monday announcement that Ohio’s largest public employee pension fund had sued Meta, alleging that it broke federal securities law by purposely misleading the public about the negative effects of its social platforms and the algorithms that run them.
The lawsuit by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System claims that Facebook buried inconvenient findings about how the company has managed those algorithms as well as the steps it said it was taking to protect the public.MORE NEWS: Burlingame Shoppers Show Up for Small Business Saturday
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