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Document: Senators request Facebook provide information on effects on children

US Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “with concern about the growing body of evidence that social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, can have a harmful impact on the mental health of children and teenagers.”

The Senators are seeking internal research the company has produced on the subject, including any information it has on a potential relationship between the use of its products and “increased suicidal thoughts, heightened anxiety, unhealthy usage patterns, negative self-image, or other indications of lower well-being,” as well as evidence of addiction. The Senators also request Facebook make a senior executive available for a planned hearing in September.

On May 18th, Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, convened a hearing titled, “Protecting Kids Online: Internet Privacy and Manipulative Marketing”. Ahead of that hearing, Senator Blumenthal previously joined Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA3) and Kathy Castor (D-FL14) in sending a letter with 14 questions on the proposed Instagram for Kids service to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

At a Congressional hearing in the House Energy & Commerce Committee on March 25th, 2021, multiple Representatives pressed tech CEOs on questions around harms to children.