Facebook has agreed to send a witness to Washington for a hearing next week in the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the subcommittee are both unhappy with a Wall Street Journal report that Facebook had data showing Instagram could be harmful to young people, but downplayed it.
The title of the Sept. 30 hearing advertises that bipartisan concern: “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, & Mental Health Harms.”
And if that were not sufficient tip-off, Blumenthal made it clear: “This hearing will examine the toxic effects of Facebook and Instagram on young people and others.“
“[Founder and CEO] Mark Zuckerberg’s guiding principle for Facebook is profit,” added Blackburn.
Blumenthal’s office said that Facebook has agreed to send global head of safety Antigone Davis to the hearing. It also signaled there will be more hearings where this came from, with other social media companies having agreed to appear at future hearings “looking at whether Big Tech is knowingly harming people.”
If past is prologue, Davis can expect to get a grilling next week.
Earlier this month, Blumenthal and Blackburn launched a probe of Facebook's alleged "coverup" of the impact of its platforms on teens and children, tapping a Facebook whistleblower in that effort.
Blumenthal is also calling on TikTok to explain how it is combating the Devious Licks issue and also plans to hold a hearing on that platform on kids and teens.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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