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Colorado joins investigation into Facebook's knowledge of product's harm to children

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Posted at 2:03 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 16:03:40-05

DENVER – Colorado is joining a multistate investigation into allegations Facebook knew its products, particularly Instagram, increased mental and physical health risks for children but took no action.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced the state had joined the probe, which comes after the company published reports about Instagram and children in October and sought to downplay them ahead of congressional hearings.

The Wall Street Journal has published a series of reports containing information from internal documents from a whistleblower about the company's internal research. The New York Times reported that one of the reports said one in five teenagers reported feeling worse about themselves when using Instagram.

“The rise in importance of social media platforms in our lives demands public policy attention and law enforcement oversight,” Weiser said in a statement. “Our department is intensely focused on how we best protect kids, addressing rising teenager suicide and mental health concerns. A key part of that work is overseeing the conduct of social media platforms and ensuring that they are not harming our kids in violation of the law.”

The company paused progress on an Instagram Kids service aimed at kids 13 and younger – something Weiser had pressed the company about in May, asking how the company would track information on the children, how parents would be involved and whether the service would comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

The investigation will look into how Facebook’s parent company worked in increasing how long and how often young people were using Instagram, which the attorneys general who have joined the suit said led to mental and physical harm because of the increased engagement.

Colorado is also involved in an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook and is leading an antitrust suit against Google. Ohio also sued Facebook’s parent company last week saying the platform was misleading about how its products affected children, The Verge reported.