January 2023

Zuckerberg continues to deny Meta endangers mental health of young people

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to deny there is scientific evidence linking social media use with poor mental health.

Zuckerberg appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, answering questions about the effects of social media on young people’s lives.

The hearing was also attended by Shou Chew of TikTok, Linda Yaccarino of X, Evan Spiegel of Snap and Jason Citron of Discord, as part of a debate on legislation for the Kids Online Safety Act, proposed in 2022.

“I think it’s important to look at the science,” Zuckerberg told Senator Josh Hawley, doubling down on his claim there is no evidence between poor mental health and social media use.

“I know people widely talked about this as if that is something that’s already been proven, and I think that the bulk of the scientific evidence does not support that.”

Hawley responded to Zuckerberg by citing Meta’s own internal research, leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen, which showed Instagram has made body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls.

“Your own study says that you make life worse for one in three teenage girls, and you’re here testifying to us in public that there’s no link,” he said. “For years you’ve been coming in public and testifying under oath that there’s absolutely no link, while internally you know full well your product is a disaster for teenagers.”

Ian Russell, Chair of Trustees at the Molly Rose Foundation, said: “Today Mark Zuckerberg displayed outright denial about Meta’s role in damaging the health and wellbeing of a generation of teens.

“Lawsuits show Meta knew there was a palpable risk of further child deaths because of how its algorithms recommend suicide and self harm content, yet today he falsely claimed that the bulk of the science doesn’t support a link between his product and poor mental health.

“Like Big Tobacco decades before, Big Tech is actively evading the industrial level harm it’s causing to young people and anyone watching today will be shocked.”

Meta is being sued in dozens of states that claim it deliberately creates features on Instagram and Facebook designed to cause children to become addicted to its platforms, and fails to protect them from online predators.

If you’re struggling just text MRF to 85258 so you can speak to a trained volunteer from Shout, the UK’s Crisis Text Line service.

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