In full transparency, the following is a press release from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office submitted to SOURCE media. (stock photo)
BOSTON –Today, October 5, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey co-led a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general expressing strong support for the hearings being conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee addressing protection and safety of kids and teens using social media.
“Social media platforms cannot be permitted to ignore the threat that social media can pose to children just to make a profit,” said AG Healey. “We applaud the Senate for holding these hearings to examine the business model these companies use to drive young people to their platforms. We will continue to work with our partners to protect the well-being of our kids and prevent exploitation and harm.”
The hearings on protecting kids online are being held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security.
AHealey, along with other attorneys general across the country, has been watchful and concerned over the impacts of social media on youth. Those concerns have grown with the recent research from Facebook’s own internal studies showing that social media can inflict harm—in the form of increased mental distress, eating disorders, bullying, suicide, and other self-harm—on a significant number of kids.
Today’s letter recognizes the hearings will uncover critical information about the business practices that social media companies are using to gain the attention of more young people on their platforms. In the letter, the attorneys general write that “more engagement by the user equals more data to leverage for advertising, which equals greater profit. This prompts social media companies to design their algorithms to psychologically manipulate young users into a state of addiction to their cell phone screens.”
In May 2021, AG Healey co-led a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general in sending a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging the company to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. That request was ignored. Last week, in advance of the Congressional hearings, Facebook announced their intent to “pause” the project. The attorneys general believe the project should be abandoned altogether.