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Instagram parent Meta targeted by online investigation into child safety in Europe

Meta, the parent company of Instagram, will be investigated in Europe for its alleged failure to protect children online from social media addiction, dangerous content and other harmful effects, the companies announced Thursday. regulators.

The European Commission is investigating whether Meta breaches the Digital Services Act, a sweeping law that came into force last year and forces big tech companies to control the content on their platforms.

Officials said they were concerned that Facebook and Instagram “could stimulate behavioral addictions in children” as well as “rabbit hole effects,” where children stay glued to the apps to the detriment of their physical and mental health.

The commission also raised questions about the effectiveness of Meta’s age verification policies.

“We are not convinced that Meta has done enough to comply with DSA obligations, to mitigate the risks of negative effects on the physical and mental health of young Europeans on its Facebook and Instagram platforms,” wrote the European Market Commissioner interior, Thierry Breton. x.

“We spare no effort to protect young people,” added Breton.

Meta shares were down 1% in early trading Thursday.

The EU investigation is just the latest headache for Meta, which has faced increased scrutiny over children’s online safety in the United States.

The social media giant faces a major lawsuit from 33 states accusing its apps of fueling a youth mental health crisis, as well as a shocking complaint from New Mexico alleging Meta exposed underage users to alleged sexual predators.

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg was personally questioned by lawmakers about the company’s security lapses during a high-profile congressional hearing in January, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying the tech billionaire had “blood on (his hands)”.

Meta is under investigation in the EU. REUTERS
Officials expressed concern that Facebook and Instagram “could stimulate behavioral addictions in children” as well as “rabbit hole effects.” pixarno – stock.adobe.com

At one point, Zuckerberg stood up and apologized to the families of victims of online child sexual abuse after being pilloried for Meta’s failure to crack down on financial “sextortion” crimes on Facebook and Instagram.

The European Commission said it chose to open a formal investigation into Meta’s practices after receiving a risk assessment report from the company last September.

Meta could face massive fines of up to 6% of its annual global turnover if it is found to have breached the Digital Services Act.

A Meta spokesperson said the company looked forward to “sharing details of our work with the European Commission”.

Meta faces a number of lawsuits in the United States regarding online security. AFP via Getty Images

“We want young people to have safe, age-appropriate online experiences and we have spent a decade developing more than 50 tools, features and resources designed to protect them,” the Meta spokesperson said in a statement . “This is a challenge the entire industry faces, which is why we continue to advance industry-wide age assurance solutions that are applied across all applications to which adolescents have access.

The scrutiny from regulators has yet to impact Meta’s financial results.

The company’s stock has jumped 37% since the start of the year.

Meta announced its first-ever quarterly dividend earlier this year, which is expected to net Zuckerberg an annual windfall of $700 million.

New York Post

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