Instagram and Facebook face EU probe for child addiction and harm

May 16, 2024
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The European Union has opened a formal investigation into Meta over concerns that it isn’t doing enough to safeguard the mental and physical health of children who use its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms.

The probe announced by the European Commission on Thursday will assess whether Meta has breached rules under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), noting that Facebook and Instagram’s UI and algorithms may cause “behavioral addictions in children” and create “rabbit-hole effects.” The EU is also concerned that Meta isn’t doing enough to prevent minors from accessing inappropriate content, and that its age-verification tools may not be “reasonable, proportionate, and effective.”

The Commission’s next steps involve gathering additional evidence. There’s no formal deadline for the proceedings, but the EU is permitted to take interim enforcement action against Meta while the investigation is ongoing. If Meta is found to be in violation of DSA rules, it could face fines of up to six percent of the company’s global revenue, with EU Commissioner Thierry Breton declaring on X that “we are sparing no effort to protect youth.”

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