WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The Tech Oversight Project issued the following statement blasting Meta for gaslighting lawmakers, parents, and young people with its “latest announcement” to provide resources to children and teens who are harmed by Meta’s dangerous product designs. Meta’s announcement follows a nearly identical proclamation from the company in 2019 – proving that the company is fundamentally unserious about protecting children and teens. The tech giant is also currently suing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for enforcing COPPA by holding Meta accountable for continually violating children’s privacy after repeated warnings.
“Meta will always promise to change, ‘do better,’ and protect kids online, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing but lip service, because Mark Zuckerberg and Meta senior executives refuse to make fundamental changes to improve safety and protect kids’ privacy. Lawmakers, parents, and young people should recognize that Meta is a fundamentally unserious, bad-faith actor who have proven they will not sacrifice small amounts of profit to make safer products and improve kids’ health,” said Sacha Haworth, Executive Director of The Tech Oversight Project. “We cannot stand by and continually accept hollow press releases from companies like Meta, TikTok, and Google while young people’s lives are at risk. We need to meet this moment with action by passing critically-important legislation like the Kids Online Safety Act and Kids Code bills in statehouses across the country.”
Background on Meta and Online Safety:
- Based on reporting and unsealed court records, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was aware that Facebook and Instagram were designed to be addictive and detrimental to young people’s mental health, particularly teen girls, but lied to Congress under oath.
- In an effort to replicate the harmful TikTok platform and algorithm, Meta recalibrated its product and algorithms to emulate its platforms on TikTok and expand its base of young users despite knowing its products were already detrimental to youth mental health.
- Instagram had planned to roll out an Instagram for Kids platform that was only shelved due to outcry from parents and social media watchdog groups.
Despite leaked internal documents laying out the problem that “thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” and adding that “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” Meta’s senior leadership have done nothing to alter their platform or algorithm.
Recent Headlines on Meta and Children’s Safety:
- Wall Street Journal: States Sue Meta Alleging Harm to Young People on Instagram, Facebook
- New York Times: Meta Accused by States of Using Features to Lure Children to Instagram and Facebook
- Associated Press: Former Facebook contractor who emailed Zuckerberg about child safety concerns briefs Congress: ‘Meta’s executives knew the harm that teenagers were experiencing’
- Washington Post: Zuckerberg ‘ignored’ executives on kids’ safety, unredacted lawsuit alleges
- Wall Street Journal: Instagram’s Algorithm Delivers Toxic Video Mix to Adults Who Follow Children
- The Guardian: Meta deflects child harm inquiry by pointing to Apple and Google app stores
- Wall Street Journal: Meta Is Struggling to Boot Pedophiles Off Facebook and Instagram
- Wall Street Journal: Facebook and Instagram Steer Predators to Children, New Mexico Attorney General Alleges in Lawsuit