- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Facebook “whistleblower” will testify before the Senate next week at a hearing about protecting children online, according to a bipartisan Senate duo.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, and Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, are probing Facebook‘s effect on children and are holding a series of hearings regarding the company’s actions. The senators did not identify the whistleblower or the nature of the person’s relationship to Facebook in a statement announcing the upcoming hearing. 

“From turning a blind eye to the negative impacts of its platforms on teens’ mental health to its inability to police for trafficking, domestic servitude, and other harmful content, Facebook has a lot to account for,” Ms. Blackburn said in the statement. “I look forward to hearing more from the whistleblower and learning the true account of Facebook‘s missteps.” 

Mr. Blumenthal, who leads a subcommittee probing Facebook, said the whistleblower’s testimony will prove critical to people’s understanding of Facebook‘s effect on children. 

“I look forward to a discussion of the wide range of stunning allegations that have recently been brought to light about the concerning experiences young people are having on these apps,” Mr. Blumenthal said. 

Among those wide-ranging allegations are the Wall Street Journal’s accusation that Facebook knows Instagram is “toxic for teen girls” based on internal company research. 

Mr. Blumenthal and Ms. Blackburn will hold a hearing on Thursday featuring Facebook executive Antigone Davis over the company’s alleged mental health harms. 

As Facebook has prepared for its confrontations with Congress, it has halted an Instagram product for children and posted statements online challenging its critics. On Monday, the Facebook-owned Instagram announced it was suspending the development of “Instagram Kids,” a version of the popular image-sharing social media platform tailored to children. 

Facebook did not immediately respond to request for comment about the hearing featuring an alleged whistleblower.

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

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