Finally, there is a bipartisanship in Congress: Everybody is joining together to slam Facebook for grooming America’s children to become new customers.
In a meeting of the consumer protection subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, panel members, from Connecticut’s liberal Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal to Sen. Ted Cruz, the right-wing firebrand from Texas, hammered the social-media giant for alleged psychological damage being inflicted on American youth. The verbal onslaught came after a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that Facebook’s own internal research determined that the company’s Instagram platform is undermining the self-perceived body images of teenage girls and after a flood of criticism forced Facebook to sideline a new version of Instagram aimed at children aged 10 to 12.
Taking this flack was Antigone Davis, a Facebook executive who insisted her company only had the best interests of children in mind when they designed products for younger and younger people. Blumenthal wasn’t buying it.
“Facebook knows the destructive consequences that Instagram’s design and algorithms are having on our young people and our society, but it has routinely prioritized its own rapid growth over basic safety for our children,” the senator said.
The senators could well have argued that social media has become our society’s most insidious drug, an addiction that has skewed political perceptions, damaged democracy and undermined the effort to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, all while empowering bullies, trolls, predators and extremists of many shades. And Facebook is the prime pusher of this new addiction.
We all know why Facebook wants to pull more kids into its orbit, and it ain’t altruism. It is what they always want: market domination.
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