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US states want to find out if Facebook is exploiting children in the interest of profit

The social media giant has been in the hot seat since its internal operations were exposed by a former employee.

A group of US state attorneys general on November 18 launched an investigation into Facebook for promoting Instagram to children and young adults despite knowing that the platform causes physical and mental health harms, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a press release. "Attorneys general across the country are examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk," Healey said. The investigation comes amidst the ongoing whistleblower revelations, which are bringing to light the inside workings of Facebook including serious lapses to counter the harm caused by the company's platforms. What prompted this investigation and what do the states want to look into? The two most influential revelations that prompted this investigation are the Wall Street Journal's reports on how Facebook knew Instagram was toxic for teens girls but did not disclose or address this and how the company employs various tactics to attract preteens onto its platforms. On the basis of these reports, Healey wrote that Facebook: 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. "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," Healey said. Which states are participating? The investigation is being conducted by a bipartisan coalition…

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