Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING SUPPORTS CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ADDRESSING YOUTH SOCIAL MEDIA USE
~ Herring has joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general in expressing concerns about social media platforms exploiting young people for profit ~
RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general in expressing strong support for the hearings being conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee addressing protection and safety of kids and teens using social media. Attorney General Herring and his colleagues have been watchful and concerned over the impacts of social media on youth. Those concerns have grown with the recent research from Facebook's own internal studies showing that social media is inflicting harm – in the form of increased mental distress, bullying, suicide, and other self-harm – on a significant number of children.
"Research continues to show just how dangerous social media and the internet can be for children, with risks ranging from cyberbullying, to mental health issues, to the threat of dangerous individuals who prey on young people,” said Attorney General Herring. "I remain concerned that social media companies, like Facebook and Instagram, continue to work on products and platforms that potentially exploit young users just to make a profit. We must do all we can to protect young users from these and other threats on social media platforms, especially in the ever-changing landscape of the internet.”
Attorney General Herring's letter recognizes the hearings will uncover critical information about the business practices that social media companies are using to gain the attention of more young people on their platforms. Attorney General Herring and his colleagues believe the current and future wellbeing of our nation's youth is at stake.
In May 2021, Attorney General Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general in writing a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging the company to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. That request was ignored. Last week, in advance of the Congressional hearings, Facebook announced their intent to "pause” the project, but Attorney General Herring and his colleagues believe the project should be abandoned altogether.
In the letter, the coalition writes that "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 and other features to psychologically manipulate young users into a state of addiction to their cell phone screens.”
Joining Attorney General Herring in sending the letter are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
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