CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined with a group of 52 attorneys general in supporting efforts by a U.S. Senate committee to protect the wellbeing of children — particularly their mental health — while they use social media.
The attorneys general, in a bipartisan letter to committee leaders, expressed concerns that Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are seeking to increase user engagement by attracting children and adolescents to sign up.
“Facebook and other social media platforms understand that their business models necessitate increasing the amount of time that kids engage with their platforms to maximize monetization,” Attorney General Morrisey joined in writing. “More engagement by the user equals more data to leverage for advertising, which equals greater profit. This prompts social media companies to design their algorithms to psychologically manipulate young users into a state of addiction to their cell phone screens.”
This week’s letter was addressed to Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn, chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security.
The attorneys general cite recent reports, including from the Wall Street Journal, that detail the harms social media can present to children and teenagers, including but not limited to, increased mental distress, bullying, self-harm and contemplation of suicide. These reports note that young girls are among those most negatively impacted.
The attorneys general also cite news reports in noting that other platforms such as TikTok allow algorithms to direct youth to pornographic websites.
The letter came in advance of hearings by the committee titled, “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, and Mental Health Harms.”
Read a copy of the letter at https://bit.ly/2YjhzDz.