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Attorney General Schmitt Joins Nationwide Investigation into Instagram’s Impact on Young People

Nov 18, 2021, 13:46 PM by AG Schmitt
Attorney General Schmitt today joined a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. Attorneys General across the country are examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.
“Protecting Missouri’s children is of the utmost importance as the State’s attorney general. Joining with a broad group of attorneys general, we’re launching an investigation into Meta and Instagram’s practices, especially as it relates to increasing the frequency that younger users engage with content on their platform,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “Big tech giants are not above the law, and I look forward to working with attorneys general across the country to protect our children.”

The investigation targets, among other things, the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement. Today’s announcement follows recent reports revealing that Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders, and even suicide. In May, a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general urged Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.

Leading the investigation, involving a broad group of states across the country is a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont.