By Esme Murphy
Senators grilled the head of Instagram Wednesday about what they’re doing to keep young people safe on the popular platform. The planned Senate Commerce Committee hearing came 24 hours after Instagram announced new tools to protect kids.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among those asking for change.
The exchanges were at times testy.
Klobuchar asked Instagram Head Adam Mosseri, “Have you not done things to get more teenagers’ interest in your product? Are you not worried about losing them to other platforms? You better tell the truth, you are under oath.”
“Absolutely Senator,” Mosseri said. “We also invest, I believe more than anyone else, more in keeping people and including teens safe”.
But Senators of both parties said they are fed up.
Sen. Richard Blumental (D-CT) said, “legislation is coming, we cant rely on trust anymore”.
In October, a whistleblower revealed research to Congress showing that 17% of teen girls say Instagram usage worsened their eating orders and 32% said Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies.
Klobuchar and other senators including Sen. Tammy Baldwin wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg and the head of Instagram asking what measures, if any, they have in place to protect vulnerable kids.
Instagram introduced new measures this week, including a tool parents can use to limit time on the platform and barring users from tagging teens that don’t follow them. Klobuchar says it’s not enough.
“They won’t even commit to me about how much is out there that kids are exposed to,” Klobuchar said in an interview. “Parents should not have to be technical wizards”.
University of Minnesota students walking to classes agreed.
“I do kind of compare myself to those models that I see and other people too, but there is also photo retouching and it’s not realistic,” Mai Ying said, a student at the university.
Ying and fellow student Terrina White told us that’s why they are taking a break from Instagram.
“It can put a lot of pressure on you that you have to look just like them in order to be happy or be fit,” White said.
Instagram says those new parental tools will be rolled out sometime early next year.