Nebraska Attorney General Peterson joined a nationwide investigation Thursday into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting Instagram to children and young adults despite knowing such use is associated with physical and mental health harms.

As part of a national investigation into possible criminal acts by the social media giant, state attorneys general from across the country are examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson.

The investigation targets, among other things, the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement. 

Reports reveal that Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders and even suicide, Peterson said.

Peterson has long been concerned about the negative impacts of social media platforms on Nebraska’s youngest residents.

In May, he joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.

Leading the investigation is a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont, Peterson said.

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