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Constitutional Litigation Partnership: Facebook Chooses Profit over Youth Mental Health

October 6, 2021

Authored by: Catharine Cypher and Venetia Resciniti

Over the past few weeks, Americans have stood united in outrage over the actions of the social media giant Facebook. Before the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, revealed herself and testified before Congress, the Wall Street Journal released “The Facebook Files,” a nine-part series containing leaked documents and harrowing stories highlighting the company’s awareness of the damaging impact their platforms have on youth.

In the last three years, Instagram, owned by Facebook, has conducted internal studies seeking to examine teen users’ experiences on their platform in an effort to better understand the 22 million teens who log into Instagram every day – a substantial base that is vital to the company’s $100 billion annual revenue.

Instagram has evolved into a place where users share only the best moments of themselves and heavily emphasize body and lifestyle. According to a March 2020 slide presentation shared with Facebook employees, researchers found that Instagram increased social comparison of among users, specifically relating to attractiveness, wealth, and success. These factors led to exacerbating body image issues for one in three teen girls, eating disorders, and other mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.

Much like tobacco, users are addicted to the consumption of Facebook’s product. Rather than the company addressing the issue internally, they have continually ignored the research while pursuing the opportunity to expand their services to an even younger audience through Instagram Kids (which has been subsequentially paused amid backlash from child safety advocates and lawmakers). This revelation reaffirms the need for accountability and a need to protect vulnerable populations.

It’s terrifying to think that these social media behemoths are fully aware of their platform’s dangerous effects on children, yet completely disregard the researchers’ findings and instead only focus on increasing Facebook’s revenue.

This week, as we watch the testimony from the Facebook whistleblower unfold, it seems as though Facebook’s protective seams, known as Section 230, are ready to burst. From silencing a sitting President of the United States, to working with the White House as government actors, to suppressing damaging information about a Presidential candidate’s corrupt child, to unequal and politically motivated censorship – it is time for America to take a stand.

Members of Congress such as Senators Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, Mike Lee, and Lindsey Graham have introduced legislation or announced plans to introduce legislation to hold Big Tech accountable for their egregious actions.

The America First Policy Institute is proud to be the public interest firm supporting President Trump’s class action lawsuit against Big Tech. Since July, we have collected nearly 100,000 censorship stories and First Amendment violations from everyday Americans.

If you too would like to join in this fight, join us at TakeOnBigTech.com.

Catharine Cypher serves as Chief of Staff and Venetia Resciniti serves as a Staff Assistant for the Constitutional Litigation Partnership for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).