Bipartisan Coalition of Attorneys General Express Support for Congressional Hearings Addressing Youth Social Media Use
(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong joined a bipartisan coalition of X attorneys general expressing strong support for the hearings being conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee addressing protection and safety of kids and teens using social media.
Attorney General Tong and other attorneys general are deeply troubled and concerned over the impacts of social media on youth. Those concerns have grown with the recent research from Facebook’s own internal studies showing that social media is inflicting harm — in the form of increased mental distress, bullying, suicide, and other self-harm — on a significant number of kids.
“Facebook’s own research shows that their products negatively affect young people’s mental health, body image and self-esteem. Social media companies have failed to protect children from these serious harms, choosing instead to maximize their profits by targeting young people,” Attorney General Tong said. “We must do everything in our power to protect our kids from these dangers and I thank the Senate for holding this hearing and taking a hard look at these apps and what they mean for youth safety and mental health.”
In a joint letter, sent by the attorneys general, the bipartisan coalition writes to express support for the hearings conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security.
“More engagement by the user equals more data to leverage for advertising, which equals greater profit. This prompts social media companies to design their algorithms and other features to psychologically manipulate young users into a state of addiction to their cell phone screens…We are confident that your hearings will uncover critical information about the business practices that social media companies are using to gain the attention of more young people on their platforms. The matter is urgent. Both the current and future well-being of our nation’s youth is at stake. We cannot cede such an important interest to the bottom line of social media companies,” the letter states.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging the company to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for Kids. The product would have been for children under the age of 13. That request was ignored. Last week, in advance of the Congressional hearings, Facebook announced their intent to “pause” the project. The attorneys general believe the project should be abandoned altogether.