Meta facing scrutiny

EU Launches Investigation into Facebook and Instagram Over Child Safety Concerns

The European Union has initiated a formal investigation into Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, over concerns that its platforms may be too addictive for children and fail to provide adequate protection. This move underscores the growing regulatory focus on the potential harms of social media on young users.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, will assess whether Meta has adhered to its obligations under the Digital Services Act (DSA), a comprehensive new regulation aimed at ensuring online safety. The DSA mandates that platforms implement measures to protect minors from harmful content and ensure their privacy and safety. Non-compliance could lead to fines up to 6% of a company’s global revenue or enforced changes to their operations.

In a statement released Thursday, the European Commission expressed concerns that the interfaces of Facebook and Instagram might exploit the vulnerabilities of young users, fostering addictive behaviours. Additionally, the Commission questioned the effectiveness of Meta’s age verification methods.

“We want young people to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online and have spent a decade developing more than 50 tools and policies designed to protect them. This is a challenge the whole industry is facing, and we look forward to sharing details of our work with the European Commission,” a Meta spokesperson told CNN.

Despite a report submitted by Meta last September outlining its efforts to safeguard minors, EU regulators remain unconvinced. “We are not convinced that Meta has done enough to comply with the DSA obligations to mitigate the risks of negative effects to the physical and mental health of young Europeans,” said Commissioner Thierry Breton. “We are sparing no effort to protect our children.”

Meta has been under increasing scrutiny regarding the impact of its platforms on youth mental health and safety. In the United States, the company faces multiple lawsuits from school districts and state attorneys general concerning these issues. Recently, an investigation by the New Mexico attorney general led to the arrest of three men charged with attempted sexual abuse of children, highlighting the ongoing risks associated with social media use by minors.

EU regulators have frequently scrutinized Meta, particularly concerning advertising by scammers, foreign election interference, and the spread of disinformation and illegal content linked to geopolitical conflicts.

The outcome of this investigation could have significant implications for Meta and set a precedent for how social media platforms are regulated concerning child safety and addictive content.

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