A group of social scientists and researchers in the United States is investigating the way in which the social network Instagram targets younger audiences, especially children , despite the fact that there are many potential risks for them. Another debate that has existed since the emergence and consolidation of social networks is whether they should have much stricter mechanisms to prevent minors, and especially children, from having profiles on them and accessing them without any control.
Children are the most exposed
The research group, made up of numerous experts from various parts of the country, is investigating both Instagram and its parent company: Facebook (now called Meta), to determine whether consumer protection laws were violated throughout 2020, focusing on how children interact with these types of social networks and what type of content they broadcast.
This investigation is being carried out after a few weeks ago a whistleblower, a former employee of the company, testified in the United States courts assuring that the company knew that its products can harm children.
Of course, from Meta (the old Facebook) they have run to deny any statement that points to the possible damage that their social platforms can cause to children, and they have avoided at all times any question about whether they have the appropriate controls to prevent this such a vulnerable population group access the content that is published in them.
Those in charge of initiating the investigation procedures have already reached some quite shocking conclusions. For example, they say that Facebook, or Meta, has known for a long time that Instagram is directly related to mental disorders such as depression, eating disorders and suicide among young people.
Some levels of the judiciary, such as the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, have pointed out that companies “manipulate and treat our children like mere guinea pigs to achieve higher viewing rates and collect more and more data […] These Social media platforms are extremely dangerous and have been shown to cause physical and mental harm in young people, “they have stated from the body.
Immediately after the press began to echo the investigation, Meta rejected all the practices of which they were accused. “These accusations are false and demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of how social media works,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement. “While the challenges to protecting youth online activity affect the entire industry, we have led the fight against cyberbullying and support for people who have or develop suicidal thoughts, self-harm and eating disorders,” he added.
The announcement of the investigation comes after a series of reports that have come to light and that are based on documents leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen.