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EU Investigates Meta Over Potentially Addictive Effects of Facebook and Instagram on Children

The European Union is investigating Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for the potentially addictive effects of its platforms on children.


The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, opened formal proceedings against Meta on Thursday to determine if the company violated the Digital Services Act (DSA) protections for minors.


In a press release, the commission highlighted concerns that the design of Facebook and Instagram "may exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors and cause addictive behaviour."


The investigation will also examine the age-verification tools used by Meta, assessing whether they are "reasonable, proportionate, and effective," and will look into the company’s efforts to "ensure a high level of privacy, safety, and security for minors."


European Commissioner Thierry Breton stated, "We are not convinced that Meta has done enough to comply with the DSA obligations to mitigate the risks of negative effects to the physical and mental health of young Europeans on its platforms Facebook and Instagram."


He added, "We will now investigate in-depth the potential addictive and ‘rabbit hole’ effects of the platforms, the effectiveness of their age verification tools, and the level of privacy afforded to minors in the functioning of recommender systems. We are sparing no effort to protect our children."


Meta is already under investigation by the European Commission for potential DSA violations related to deceptive advertising and political content.


In response, Meta emphasized its commitment to protecting young people, stating that it has developed "more than 50 tools, features, and resources" over the past decade.


A Meta spokesperson noted, "This is a challenge the whole industry is facing, which is why we’re continuing to advance industry-wide solutions to age assurance that are applied to all apps teens access. We look forward to sharing details of our work with the European Commission."

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