Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, has agreed to testify before Congress for the first time as bipartisan anger heats up over the app harming young people.
Mr Mosseri is expected to appear before a Senate commission during the week of December 6 in a series of hearings on child protection online, said Senator Richard Blumenthal, who will chair the hearings.
Mr Mosseri’s appearance follows this year’s hearing with Antigone Davis, global chief of security for Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Frances Haugen, a former employee-turned-whistleblower. Ms. Haugen’s disclosures about the social network, in particular Facebook and Instagram research on its impact on some teens and young girls, have drawn criticism, requests from politicians and investigations from regulators.
In September, Ms Davis told Congress that the company was challenging the suggestion that Instagram is harmful to teens, and noted that the leaked study did not contain any causal data. But after the testimony of Ms Haugen last month, Mr Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, wrote a letter Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, suggesting that his company “gave me false or inaccurate testimony regarding attempts to hide its research within the company.”
Mr Blumenthal asked that Mr Zuckerberg or Mr Mosseri testify before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection Subcommittee to clarify.
“He’s the top guy on Instagram, and the entire nation is wondering why Instagram and other technology platforms have created so much danger and damage by passing toxic content to children through these extremely powerful algorithms,” said Mr Blumenthal, chairman of the subcommittee. “Hearings will be critical as they help us develop laws that can have an impact on making platforms more secure.”
Dani Lever, spokeswoman for Meta, said in a statement, “We are continuing to work with the committee to find a date when Adam will testify about the important steps that Instagram is taking.”
Mr Blumenthal said he will question Mr Mosseri about how Instagram’s algorithms can send kids to dangerous rabbit holes. Since Mr. Blumenthal’s subcommittee began a series of hearings, lawmakers have heard stories from hundreds of parents and children who have shared personal anecdotes, including stories of how fitness messages turned into content advice on extreme dieting, eating disorders. behavior and self-harm.
Mr Blumenthal said he will seek a commitment from Mr Mosseri to make Instagram ratings and recommendations transparent to the public and experts who can study how the app amplifies malicious content. Blumenthal said executives at Snap, TikTok, and YouTube, who all testified at the previous hearing, are committed to algorithmic transparency.
Zuckerberg is used to being dragged in front of American lawmakers, but this will be the first time Mr. Mosseri will testify to them under oath. A trusted assistant to Mr. Zuckerberg, who was selected to be the CEO of Instagram in 2018, Mr. Mosseri became the public face of the photo-sharing app, regularly posting video announcements of new features and appearing on morning TV shows.
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In September, ahead of Ms. Davis’s Senate hearing, Mr. Mosseri appeared on the NBC Today Show to announce that Instagram would suspend development versions of an app developed for children following public backlash and renewed interest from lawmakers over Ms Haugen’s information leaks. BuzzFeed News For the first time in March, it was reported that the company was working on a version of Instagram for children under 13.
The planned appearance of Mr. Mosseri is the latest consequence of the leaked files of Ms. Haugen, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal. These documents, called The Facebook Papershave led to numerous complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission that Meta has misled investors about its efforts to protect users.
Last week, a bipartisan group of 11 state attorneys general announced that started an investigation whether Meta has failed to protect the mental well-being of young people on its platforms, including Instagram.