: Facebook safety exec to face Senate panel next week over teens’ mental health

United States

A Senate panel will grill a Facebook Inc. executive next week in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report that found Facebook had knowledge that its platforms have a negative impact on young users yet has done little to address the problem.

Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., will convene a hearing before a Senate consumer-protection subcommittee next Thursday, Sept. 30, entitled “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, & Mental Health Harms.”

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, is scheduled to appear before the panel.

“Mark Zuckerberg’s guiding principle for Facebook is profit,” Blackburn said in a statement Thursday. “The platform was fully aware that Facebook had serious and harmful issues. Young girls’ risk of suicide increased, human trafficking thrived on the site, and cartels gloated about their killings. I look forward to Facebook answering these very serious allegations.”

The Journal last week published a series of articles examining problems with Facebook’s platforms, including Instagram, and the harm they cause. One report found the social-media giant knew Instagram was toxic for teenage girls, yet played down its mental-health impact in public.

Following the reports, which Facebook has characterized as “mischaracterizations,” Blackburn and Blumenthal announced their intention to hold a Senate hearing into the matter.

Facebook shares FB, +2.02% have fallen more than 7% over the past five days, but are still up 27% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s SPX, +0.15% 18% gain this year.