Senators target Facebook over harm to teens

SEN. TED CRUZ: "Number one, have you quantified how many children have taken their own lives because of your products?"

Senators on both sides of the aisle on Thursday took direct aim at Facebook, grilling its global head of safety over leaked internal reports which show that its Instagram app damages the mental health of teenagers...and Facebook knows it.

"Facebook's own researchers describe instagram itself as a 'perfect storm'."

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal chaired the hearing, which was billed as "Protecting Kids Online.”

"It has attempted to deceive the public and us in Congress about what it knows, and it has weaponized childhood vulnerabilities against children themselves…it has chosen growth over children's mental health and well-being, greed over preventing the suffering of children."

Facebook has been under fire after the Wall Street Journal reported internal documents showed that the social media company was aware that Instagram harmed the mental health of young users.

ANTIGONE DAVIS: "If there is someone struggling on our platforms, we want to build product changes to improve their experience and help support them."

But the company’s global safety head Antigone Davis on Thursday pushed back against the withering criticism...and instead highlighted what she argued were more positive impacts of the social media giant.

"The research shows that many teens say that Instagram is helping teens with hard issues that is so common to being a teen."

SEN. CYNTHIA LUMMIS: "Is Facebook withholding information on studies they've done on negative mental health consequences?"

"Thank you for your question, Senator. Actually I would say that the one-sided and misleading reports actually were in the Wall Street Journal, which didn't provide the full context."

Despite Facebook’s insistence on the positive benefits of Instagram, the company this week put on ice its plans to launch an instagram for under 13-year-olds, amid growing opposition to the project.

The Senate will hear more on Facebook next week when a Facebook whistleblower is scheduled to testify about the company and how it handles children's safety online.

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