The Instagram manager agrees to testify as Congress probes the app’s effects on young people.

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Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has agreed to testify before Congress for the first time, as bipartisan anger mounts over the harms the app has done to young people.

Mr Mosseri is expected to appear before a Senate panel the week of December 6 in a series of hearings on protecting children online, said Senator Richard Blumenthal, who will lead the hearing.

Mr Mosseri’s appearance follows this year’s hearings with Antigone Davis, global head of security for Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and with Frances Haugen, a former employee turned whistleblower. Ms Haugen’s revelations about the social networking company, particularly about Facebook and Instagram’s research into its effects on certain teens and young girls, have drawn criticism, inquiries from politicians and inquiries from regulators.

In September, Davis told Congress the company challenged the hypothesis that Instagram was harmful to teens and noted that the leaked research did not contain causal data. But after Ms Haugen testified last month, Mr Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, suggesting that his company had “provided me with false or inaccurate testimony regarding attempts to conceal his research internally. . “

Mr Blumenthal has requested that either Mr Zuckerberg or Mr Mosseri testify before the consumer protection subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee to set the record straight.

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“He’s the best in Instagram, and the whole nation is wondering why Instagram and other tech platforms have created so much danger and damage by bringing toxic content to kids with these extremely powerful algorithms,” Mr. Blumenthal said. , who chairs the subcommittee. . “The audience will be of critical importance in guiding us in crafting laws that may impact platform security.”

Dani Lever, a spokesperson for Meta, said in a statement: “We continue to work with the committee to find a date for Adam to testify on the important steps taken by Instagram.”

Mr Blumenthal said he would ask Mr Mosseri about how Instagram’s algorithms can send children into dangerous rabbit holes. Since Mr Blumenthal’s subcommittee began its round of hearings, lawmakers have heard from hundreds of parents and children who have shared personal anecdotes, including stories of how articles form evolved into recommendations for content related to extreme diets, eating disorders and self-injury.

Mr Blumenthal said he would ask Mr Mosseri to commit to making Instagram’s ranking and recommendation decisions transparent to the public and experts who can study how the app amplifies harmful content. Mr Blumenthal said executives from Snap, TikTok and YouTube, all of whom testified at a previous hearing, are committed to algorithmic transparency.

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While Mr. Zuckerberg has grown accustomed to being dragged in front of U.S. lawmakers, this will be the first time Mr. Mosseri has testified under oath before them. Mr. Zuckerberg’s trusted lieutenant who was chosen to lead Instagram in 2018, Mr. Mosseri has become the public face of the photo-sharing app, regularly hosting video announcements about new features and appearing on TV shows. in the morning.

In September, ahead of Ms Davis’ Senate hearing, Mr Mosseri appeared on NBC’s Today Show to announce that Instagram would pause development of a version of the app designed for kids at the following public reactions and renewed interest from lawmakers over Ms Haugen’s leaks. BuzzFeed News first reported in March that the company was working on a version of Instagram for children under 13.

Mr Mosseri’s scheduled appearance is the latest consequence of Ms Haugen’s file leaks, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The documents, called The Facebook Papers, formed the basis of several complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission that Meta misled investors about its efforts to protect users.

Last week, a bipartisan group of 11 state attorneys general announced that they had opened an investigation into whether Meta had failed to protect the mental well-being of young people on its platforms, including Instagram.

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