Meta Faces EU Probe Over Adverse Effects On Kids 

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Meta Faces EU Probe Over Adverse Effects On Kids 

| Updated: May 17, 2024 14:33

The probe is about the potentially addictive effects of Instagram and Facebook on children

EU regulators on Thursday started investigations into American social media giant Meta for the potentially addictive effects of Instagram and Facebook on children.

Meta’s products may “exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors” to create behavioural dependencies that threaten their mental well-being, the European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-member bloc, said in a statement.

EU regulators could fine Meta up to 6% of its global revenue, which was $135 billion last year, as well as force product changes. 

The investigations are part of a growing effort by governments around the world to rein in services like Instagram and TikTok to protect minors. Meta has for years faced criticism that its products and recommendation algorithms are fine-tuned to hook children. 

Violating laws?

EU regulators said they had been in touch with US counterparts about the investigations. They said Meta could be in violation of the Digital Services Act, a law approved in 2022 that requires large online services to more aggressively police their platforms for illicit content and have policies in place to mitigate risks toward children. 

EU regulators plan to investigate the potential addictive effects of the platforms, the effectiveness of their age verification tools, and the level of privacy afforded to minors.  

Meanwhile, Meta has said its social media services were safe for young people, noting features that let parents and children set time limits on how much they use Instagram or Facebook. Teenagers are also defaulted into more restrictive content and recommendation settings. Meta’s advertisers are barred from showing targeted ads to underage users, the company said.

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