Congress grills Facebook on childhood mental health

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – Facebook was grilled by lawmakers again on Capitol Hill. A Senate subcommittee held a hearing focused on social media and children’s mental health.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn.) said “Facebook has shown us, once again, that it is incapable of holding itself accountable.”

With documents provided by a whistleblower, extensive reporting, and research, lawmakers say they now have insight into Facebook’s campaign to recruit and exploit young users.

“Facebook has concealed research studies, experts that show the harm that has been caused to children on their site, how they knew about that harm,” Blumenthal said.

According to documents and surveys not released to the public, over one-third of teens felt they have little control or no control at all over how Instagram makes them feel.

Lawmakers say there is a teenage mental health crisis in the U.S. Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, pushed back, saying, “The research shows that many teens say that Instagram is helping them with hard issues that are so common to being a teen.”

The social media giant says it has teams focused on protecting kids online.

Davis stated, “We’ve built AI to identify suicide content on our platform, and rapidly respond with resources. We’ve launched tools to help control time spent on our apps.”

Some lawmakers want more action and believe the company cherrypicked parts of its own research to fit its own narrative.

Republican Senator from Tennessee Marsha Blackburn said, “We do not trust you with influencing our children with reading into their minds.”

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