Whistleblower to Testify at Senate Hearing on Facebook’s Toxic Effects

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Both Democrat and Republican senators have shown interest in hearing what the Facebook Inc. whistleblower scheduled to testify at a Senate hearing next week has to say on the toxic effects on young users the social media company’s accused for, Fox News reports.

The US Senate hearing was initiated after a report was published earlier this month based on data suggesting that Facebook has made minimal efforts to address the fact that Instagram’s harmful effect on teenagers, particularly teen girls.

According to the report said Facebook’s internal studies from the past three years show showed its app is harmful to a significant percentage of teenagers, but the company neglected to do anything to fix the issues that have caused significant mental health issues among teenagers.

Facebook later refused the report as inaccurate.

No information was released about the whistleblower and Facebook didn’t respond to the request for comment.

Announcing the Oct. 5 hearing, Democratic Senator and head of a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce panel, Richard Blumenthal, stressed the testimony will be critical to understanding what the social media company knew about its platforms’ toxic effects on young users.

It is also still to be established when the company found out about that and what was done about the issue within the social media giant.

The subcommittee’s top Republican, Senator Marsha Blackburn, pointed that Facebook has a lot to account for considering its turning a blind eye to the negative impacts of its platforms on teens’ mental health.

Blackburn noted the company also needs to explain its inability to police for trafficking, domestic servitude and other harmful content on the social media network.

This comes a day after Facebook’s photo-sharing service Instagram has put on standby its new Instagram Kids app faced with the growing criticism from US lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Instagram Kids was supposed to provide ad-free, age-appropriate content and would’ve require parental permission to join but US lawmakers and advocacy groups  expressed concerns with regard to its safety and have urged Facebook to drop its launch plans.

Four Democratic lawmakers – US Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal and US Representatives Kathy Castor and Lori Trahan- praised on Monday Facebook’s decision but stressed that the pause is insufficient since Facebook has completely forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting young people online.

Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, an advocacy group focused on kids, pointed they also won’t stop pressuring Facebook until the company permanently gives up on its plans.

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