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Coalition of states are investigating Instagram’s effects on youth

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general said Thursday it is investigating how Instagram attracts and affects young people, amping up the pressure on parent company Meta Platforms Inc.
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 over potential harms to its users.

Led by eight states, including Massachusetts and Nebraska, the coalition is focused on “the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement.”

The attorneys general said they are investigating whether the company, formerly known as Facebook, violated consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” said Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, a Republican.

Other attorneys general involved in coordinating the effort include California, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont. The full list of states that are joining the probe isn’t yet public, but a spokeswoman for Massachusetts said it was broad and nationwide.

A Meta spokesman said the investigation was premised on a misunderstanding of issues that also affect other social-media platforms.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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