WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) confronted Facebook for their active role in endangering children online during a hearing with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security.
View the opening remarks here.
Security Moms Are Fed Up With Facebook
“There are a lot of moms — ‘security moms,’ I call them — that are very concerned about what they see happening in the virtual space. In 2019, the CDC released some data. In 2019, the CDC data showed that 20% of our American high school students seriously considered attempting suicide, and 40% reported experiencing sadness, hopelessness. Now our children who have lived through COVID, school closings, and more upheaval in their lives than ever before, deserve better than this. Yet, where are they finding the social interaction and relationships that they so desperately need? Where they are finding this is on social media, on sites like Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat. Now, we know that at least one of these sites, Facebook, knows that its services are actively harming young children.”
Facebook Created A Perfect Storm Of Teen Misery
“In 2019 and 2020 Facebook's in-house analysts performed a series of deep dives into teen use of Instagram, and it revealed — I'm quoting from the report — ‘aspects of Instagram exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm, and that perfect storm manifests itself in the minds of teenagers in the form of intense social pressure, addiction, body image issues, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.’ But it gets even worse than this. Facebook, despite touting their compliance with COPPA, was scheming to bring even younger users into their field.”
Instagram Schemed To Attract More Children Onto Their Platforms
“Instagram announced this week that it is temporarily shelving their plans for Instagram Kids. But until this week, they were moving forward with this trying to bring younger children onto their platforms. At the same time that we're learning this, the Wall Street Journal reported how Facebook tried to use ‘play dates’ — that is right — ‘play dates’ to attract more children to its Messenger Kids service. In fact, Facebook is fully aware that underage children are using their platforms. Not only that, they also encourage older teen siblings to recruit their younger siblings and are actually devising marketing plans to help kids and teens create secondary or anonymous accounts that they can hide from their parents. They perform market research on kids as young as eight years old to learn how to recruit them to their sites.”
Facebook Puts Profit Above All Else
“Facebook is also aware of other types of harmful content on their site. In fact, a report shows how Facebook knew about content devoted to coercing women into domestic servitude. Yet they chose to do nothing to stop it, until Apple threatened to pull Facebook from the App Store. That’s correct. It took Apple standing up to get them to stop this. In fact, this seems to be a recurring theme with this company: do everything and anything to mold the world into your own image, your own profit, without any regard for any harm that is going to be done because your focus is on your pocketbook.”
We Do Not Trust Facebook
“We do not trust you with influencing our children, with reading into their minds. Parents also don't want Facebook collecting data on their children because, the bottom line, is these are children…Facebook has both a legal and a moral obligation to forgo collecting and using children's data. So Mr. Chairman, I'm grateful for the opportunity that we have this hearing today to continue to investigate, continue to expose what is happening in the virtual space. I am certain that we will be holding Facebook to account as other tech platforms will be held to account.”
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