In response to growing bipartisan outrage about the app’s negative effects on children and adolescents, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has volunteered to appear before Congress for the first time.
During the week of December 6, Mosseri is slated to testify before a Senate committee as part of a series of hearings on safeguarding minors online, according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, who will preside over the meeting.
After appearing before the committee earlier this year, Antigone Davis, the global head of safety at Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee who turned whistleblower, were called to testify in their respective cases. His allegations against the social networking company, particularly his revelations about Facebook and Instagram’s research into the effects of their products on some teenagers and young girls, have sparked widespread criticism, inquiries from politicians, and investigations by regulatory authorities.
In September, Davis testified before Congress that the business disagreed with the assumption that Instagram was damaging to kids and pointed out that the leaked study lacked evidence of a direct relationship between the two. The next month, Blumenthal issued a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that the business had “given misleading or erroneous evidence to me about efforts to internally hide its research.” The letter was sent after Haugen’s testimony.
The Senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has requested that Zuckerberg or Mosseri appear before the consumer protection subcommittee of the Senate’s Commerce Committee to set the facts right.
According to Blumenthal, who leads the subcommittee, “He’s the top person at Instagram, and the whole country is questioning why Instagram and other internet platforms have caused so much risk and harm by delivering poisonous information to children with these tremendously sophisticated algorithms.” In order to guide us in developing regulations that may have an influence on making platforms safer, the hearing will be very important.
“We are continuing to engage with the committee to find a date for Adam to speak on the essential actions Instagram is taking,” said Dani Lever, a Meta spokesman in a statement.
He said he will interrogate Mosseri on how the algorithms of social media platforms such as Instagram are able to lead youngsters down perilous rabbit holes. As part of its ongoing hearings, the subcommittee has heard from hundreds of parents and children who have provided personal accounts, including stories of how postings about fitness turned into recommendations for material connected to excessive diets, eating disorders, and self-harm.
Specifically, Blumenthal said he would want a pledge from Mosseri to make Instagram’s ranking and recommendation processes visible to the general public as well as to specialists who can investigate how the service promotes dangerous information. Blumenthal said that executives from Snap, TikTok, and YouTube, who appeared at a prior hearing, have shown a commitment to openness in their algorithms.
In contrast to Zuckerberg, who has been used to appearing before U.S. legislators, this will be the first time Mosseri will be called upon to testify under oath. The Instagram CEO since 2018, Mosseri has established himself as the company’s public face, hosting regular video announcements about new features and appearing on morning television shows. A trusted lieutenant of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Mosseri was chosen to lead the photo-sharing app in 2018.
Prior to Davis’ Senate hearing, Mosseri appeared on NBC’s Today Show to announce that Instagram would halt development of an app designed specifically for children as a result of public outcry and renewed legislative interest sparked by Haugen’s leaks. This announcement came just days before Davis’ Senate hearing. BuzzFeed News was the first to announce in March that Instagram was developing a version of the app just for youngsters under the age of thirteen.
Mosseri’s expected appearance is the latest development in the aftermath of Haugen’s leaked data, which were initially revealed by The Wall Street Journal in late July. This set of papers, dubbed “The Facebook Papers,” has served as the foundation for several complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that Meta deceived investors about its efforts to safeguard Facebook users.
Recently, a bipartisan coalition of 11 state attorneys general said that they had launched an inquiry into whether Meta had failed to safeguard the mental well-being of young people using its platforms, including Instagram, and that the probe had been launched.