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Instagram chief Adam Mosseri is testifying before Congress for the first time

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri is testifying before Congress

November 26, 2021: -Instagram’s chief executive Adam Mosseri is expected to testify before Congress for the first time the week of December 6, a spokesperson for Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., confirmed to CNBC.

“After bombshell reports about Instagram’s toxic impacts, we want to hear straight from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that push poisonous content to children driving them down rabbit holes to dark places, and what it will do to make its platform safer,” Blumenthal,  chair of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, said in a statement. “I appreciate Mr. Mosseri voluntarily coming to the Subcommittee and hope that he will support specific legislative reforms and solutions, particularly in its immensely potent algorithms.”

The news, first reported by The New York Times, comes after Instagram has faced heightened scrutiny after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen released thousands of pages of internal documents from parent company Facebook to the Senate, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several news outlets.

Among the findings in the documents was that Instagram had researched how its platform impacted the mental health of young users and found harmful effects on a portion of that userbase. For example, the research found that about a third of teen girl respondents said that Instagram made them feel worse when they felt bad about their bodies. It also found that among teens reporting suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.

The company has since downplayed its research, claiming a small number of respondents can’t be extrapolated to the whole userbase. But many lawmakers argue the investigation is still enough to have shown Instagram it could have done more to combat the negative impacts of its platform for young users. Lawmakers pressured the company to back off plans to create a specialized app for kids, and Instagram has since paused the effort.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified several times before Congress on topics including competition, content moderation, and privacy in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. While Congress often seeks out top executives to testify, their deputies may have more hands-on knowledge about the topics lawmakers want to learn. Some policy watchers have noted that Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, has also yet to testify before Congress while CEO of parent company Google Sundar Pichai has made several appearances.

“We continue to work with the Committee to find a date for Adam to testify on the important steps Instagram is taking,” Meta spokesperson Dani Lever said in a statement.

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