Senate Commerce Subcommittee holds mental health and social media hearing

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) looks on as Antigone Davis, Director, Global Head of Safety, Facebook testifies virtually during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security hearing on children's online safety and mental health on Capitol Hill on September 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – SEPTEMBER 30: Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) looks on as Antigone Davis, Director, Global Head of Safety, Facebook testifies virtually during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security hearing on children’s online safety and mental health on Capitol Hill on September 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 5:12 PM PT – Thursday, September 30, 2021

A Senate Commerce Subcommittee recently held a hearing on the harmful effects social media has on the youth. During the hearing, lawmakers questioned Facebook executives on the safety of children who use the platform, as well as Instagram.

On Thursday, senators on both sides of the aisle grilled Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, for allowing content regarding sex trafficking on the platform. This comes as Facebook has been under scrutiny in the wake of a report by the Wall Street Journal that alleged the social media network is aware of the harmful effects it has on young users.

Davis attempted to counter the reports, claiming the Big Tech giant has policies against sex trafficking. Davis then revealed plans to better protect children and teens online, including automatically making accounts of users under the age of 16 private when they join Instagram.

However, Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Ed Markey took aim at her questioning, asking what further research is necessary in order to protect adolescents on Instagram and Facebook considering the already supposedly extensive research.

“We’re talking about 12-year-olds. We’re talking about nine-year-olds. If you need to do more research on this, you should fire all the people who you’ve paid to do the research up until now because this is pretty obvious and it’s pretty obvious to every mother and father in our country because all recent scientific studies by child development experts found that not getting enough likes on social media significantly reduces adolescents feelings of self worth,” explained Markey.

Markey went on to say the social media giant is exploiting the peer pressure of popularity and ultimately endangering the health of young users. He also compared Facebook to Big Tobacco, saying it’s pushing a product they know is harmful to the health of young people.

The hearing comes after the social media giant recently paused plans for “Instagram Kids,” a platform meant for children under the age of 13.

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