Instagram boss Adam Mosseri should testify before the congress
Adam Mosseri, Facebook
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri is expected to testify for the first time in the week of December 6th, a spokesman for Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Told CNBC.
“After bombshell reports of Instagram’s toxic effects, we’d like to hear straight from top executives why it uses powerful algorithms that distribute toxic content to kids who drive them down rabbit holes in dark places, and what it will do to make its platform safer do. ”Blumenthal, chairman of the Commerce Senate’s Consumer Protection Subcommittee, said in a statement. “I appreciate that Mr Mosseri is joining the subcommittee voluntarily and I hope that he will support specific legislative reforms and solutions, especially in his immensely powerful algorithms.”
The news, first reported by the New York Times, comes after Instagram tightened scrutiny after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen posted thousands of pages of internal documents from parent company Facebook (recently renamed Meta) Senate, the Securities and Exchange, had published commission and several news outlets.
Findings in the documents included that Instagram had researched how its platform was affecting the mental health of young users and found negative effects on part of that user base. For example, the study found that around a third of teenage girls surveyed said they felt worse on Instagram when they felt bad about their bodies. It also found that among teenagers who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of UK users and 6% of American users attributed the problem to Instagram.
Since then, the company has downplayed its own research, claiming that a small number of respondents cannot be extrapolated to the entire user base. However, many lawmakers argue that there is still enough research to show Instagram that it could have done more to combat its platform’s negative impact on young users. Legislators have put pressure on the company to withdraw plans to develop a special app for children. Instagram has since stopped its efforts.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified several times before the congress on topics such as competition, content moderation and data protection. While Congress often seeks top executives to testify, their alternates may have more hands-on knowledge of the subjects lawmakers want to learn about. Some policy watchers have suggested that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki will also have to testify ahead of Congress while the CEO of parent company Google Sundar Pichai made several appearances.
“We’re continuing to work with the committee to find a date when Adam can testify about the important steps Instagram is taking,” Meta spokesman Dani Lever said in a statement.
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WATCH: Instagram’s Mosseri talks about new features and antitrust concerns