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U.S. state attorneys general open probe into Instagram’s effect on kids


FILE PHOTO: The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White

By Elizabeth Culliford and Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A bipartisan coalition of U.S. state attorneys general said on Thursday it has opened a probe into Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), now known as Meta Platforms, for promoting its subsidiary Instagram to children despite potential harms.

The investigation, which involves at least eight states, comes at a time when Facebook is under scrutiny over its approach to children and young adults.

The attorneys general are investigating whether the company violated consumer protection laws and put young people at risk, they said in emailed statements.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In September, the company said it was pausing its plans for a version of Instagram designed for kids, amid growing opposition to the project.

The move followed a Wall Street Journal report that said internal documents, leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, showed the company knew Instagram could have harmful mental health effects on teenage girls. Facebook has said the leaked documents have been used to paint a false picture of the company’s work.

In previous months, a group of more than 40 state attorneys had written to the company asking it to abandon plans for the kids-focused app.

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