- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2021

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri will testify before a Senate subcommittee next week about his company’s impact on children, two senators announced Thursday, as lawmakers probe the platform’s alleged dangers for kids. 

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, and Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, announced Mr. Mosseri’s first appearance before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s subcommittee on consumer protection, product safety, and data security. Ms. Blackburn has cited young girls’ risk of suicide and problems exacerbating human trafficking as issues she is scrutinizing at Facebook. 

Previously, the committee gathered testimony from Antigone Davis, an executive at Instagram’s parent company Facebook, which has since reorganized as Meta, and from former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who has accused Facebook of harming children. 

“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,” said Mr. Blumenthal 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.” 

Instagram did not comment on Thursday’s announcement but a company spokeswoman sent a post published by Mr. Mosseri last week saying that he looks forward to sharing news about the company’s work in the weeks ahead. 

Ms. Davis previously said that public discussion of Facebook’s internal research was mischaracterizing its findings regarding how the company’s products affect kids. 

Ms. Haugen, however, told the subcommittee that Congress and the government needed to act against Facebook in a manner similar to its response toward the tobacco industry, following revelations about harms that she said Big Tobacco had hidden. 

While Democrats and Republicans initially praised Ms. Haugen and her criticisms of Facebook, some lawmakers have since viewed her criticisms more skeptically amid fears that addressing her concerns may yield to censorship online. 

During a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Republican, pressed Ms. Haugen about whether big tech companies should restrict Americans’ speech. Ms. Haugen declined to answer with a direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and instead said she supported reworking the existing systems. 

While much of the Senate subcommittee’s work has focused on Facebook and its Instagram product, senators have made clear they have broader targets in their crosshairs. The subcommittee has also gathered information from other tech executives, including from Snapchat and TikTok, who made their first appearances before Congress earlier this year.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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