Instagram Head to Testify Before Congress on Platform’s Impact on Children

Instagram Head to Testify Before Congress on Platform's Impact on Children Adam Mosseri speaks onstage Adam Mosseri speaks onstage at the WIRED25 Summit 2019 – Day 1 at Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 8, 2019. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED)

By Charles Kim | Thursday, 25 November 2021 05:54 AM

Instagram head Adam Mosseri will testify before Congress in December on his platform’s impact on children, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Instagram, which is owned by Meta, is part of Senate hearings looking into the harm that social media may be doing to the young people in the country.

The hearings in the Senate, run by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., are geared around protecting children that use online platforms, according to the Times story.

Before his time in the Senate, Blumenthal served as attorney general for Connecticut.

“He’s the top guy at Instagram, and the whole nation is asking about why Instagram and other tech platforms have created so much danger and damage by driving toxic content to children with these immensely powerful algorithms,” Blumenthal, who chairs the subcommittee, told the Times. “The hearing will be critically significant in guiding us to develop laws that can have an impact on making platforms safer.”

In September, Blumenthal, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., started looking into Meta, and founder Mark Zuckerberg, for their roles in the negative impacts the platforms were having on children.

“It is clear that Facebook is incapable of holding itself accountable. The Wall Street Journal’s reporting reveals Facebook’s leadership to be focused on a growth-at-all-costs mindset that valued profits over the health and lives of children and teens. When given the opportunity to come clean to us about their knowledge of Instagram’s impact on young users, Facebook provided evasive answers that were misleading and covered up clear evidence of significant harm,” Blumenthal and Blackburn said in a joint statement in September.

“We are in touch with a Facebook whistleblower and will use every resource at our disposal to investigate what Facebook knew and when they knew it – including seeking further documents and pursuing witness testimony,” the statement continued. “The Wall Street Journal’s blockbuster reporting may only be the tip of the iceberg.”

In a response to Mosseri’s agreement to testify in front of Blumenthal’s committee on Dec. 6, Meta spokeswoman Dani Lever said the company would cooperate with the inquiry.

“We continue to work with the committee to find a date for Adam to testify on the important steps Instagram is taking,” she said in a statement to the Times.

According to the story, Blumenthal will be asking about the algorithms, or the mathematical equations and code used by the company, to direct certain content to certain users, which Blumenthal said could lead them down “dangerous rabbit holes.”

Blumenthal said that other platforms including Tik Tok, Snap, and Google’s YouTube have agreed to make those mathematical functions transparent in the future.