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Meta faces new research on ‘addictive’ effect on children

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Meta faces new research on 'addictive' effect on children

The European Union has opened an investigation into Facebook and Instagram over the potentially addictive effects of the platforms on children, echoing two similar investigations opened into TikTok. at the beginning of this year.

Metaproperty platforms will be investigated for its addictive and “rabbit hole” effects, and whether young users were being fed too much content about depression or unrealistic body images. Researchers will also investigate whether minor children (under 13 years old) are effectively being blocked from using the services.

“We are not convinced that Meta has done enough to comply with the obligations of the DSA (Digital Services Act), that is, to mitigate the risks of negative effects on the physical and mental health of young Europeans on its Facebook platforms. and Instagram,” Thierry Breton, the EU Internal Markets Commissioner leading the investigations, said in X.

“We want young people to have safe, age-appropriate online experiences,” said Meta spokesperson Kirstin MacLeod, adding that the company has developed more than 50 tools and policies designed to protect young people. “This is a challenge facing the entire industry and we look forward to sharing details of our work with the European Commission.”

The investigations into Meta and TikTok under the bloc’s new Digital Services Act rules were separate, a Commission spokesperson said, adding that the similarities between the cases simply reflected similarities in how the platforms work. “There are some competitive effects in markets where some platforms copy the features of others,” they said.

The effects of social networks on children has sparked intense debate in recent months, after the publication of the book The anxious generation By Jonathan Haidt. The New York University social psychologist argues that the prevalence of social media use among young people is rewiring children’s brains and making them more anxious. In October, a coalition of US states sued Meta, alleging that the company’s products are harmful to children’s mental health.

The Digital Services Act is a broad set of rules that aims to protect the human rights of Europeans online and came into force for the largest platforms in August last year. So far, the EU has open investigations into six platforms for different reasons: AliExpress, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, TikTok Lite and X. Under the Digital Services Law, platforms can be fined up to 6 percent of their global revenue. .

After the EU launched an investigation into a points-for-views rewards system on TikTok Lite (a version of the app that uses less data), the company saying would suspend the incentive due to concerns about its impact on children.

“Our kids are not social media guinea pigs,” Breton said at the time.

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