Nationwide investigation into impact of Instagram on youth


(Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

BOSTON (WWLP) – Attorneys General across the country are conducting a nationwide investigation to determine the impact of Instagram on the mental and physical health of youth.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is co-leading the probe into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. 

A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. are also examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

“Facebook, now Meta, has failed to protect young people on its platforms and instead chose to ignore or, in some cases, double down on known manipulations that pose a real threat to physical and mental health – exploiting children in the interest of profit,” said AG Healey. “As Attorney General it is my job to protect young people from these online harms. Today I am co-leading a nationwide coalition to get to the bottom of this company’s engagement with young users, identify any unlawful practices, and end these abuses for good. Meta can no longer ignore the threat that social media can pose to children for the benefit of their bottom line.”

The AG’s investigation targets, among other things, the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement. The investigation announcement follows recent reports revealing that Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.

AG Healey has long been concerned about the negative impacts of social media platforms on Massachusetts’ youngest residents. In May, she co-led a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general urged Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. In the letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the coalition contends that Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms.

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