NEWS ARCHIVES

Attorney General Schmitt Joins Bipartisan Coalition Asking for Answers from Tech Giants During Senate Hearings

Oct 5, 2021, 11:32 AM by AG Schmitt
Yesterday, Attorney General Schmitt joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general expressing strong support for the hearings being conducted by the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, addressing protection and safety of kids and teens using social media.
 “Facebook and other social media platforms incentivize and monetize addiction, manipulating algorithms to maximize the amount of time that kids spend on their platforms. Studies show that children who spend a large amount of time on social media can suffer from self-esteem issues and other mental health issues,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “The big tech robber-barons who are only concerned with their bottom line need to answer for the harm and devastation their platforms have unleashed. These hearings are a good start.” 
 
Attorneys general have been watchful 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.
 
Yesterday’s letter recognizes the 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. Attorneys general believe the current and future well-being of our nation’s youth is at stake. 
 
In May 2021, 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 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.
 
The attorneys general write that “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.”
 
The letter continues, “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 full letter can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/final---naag-letter-to-senate-subcommittee-on-consumer-protection-product-safety-and-data-security.pdf?sfvrsn=23295a95_2.
 
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