EU To Probe Facebook, Instagram Over Children Addiction, Safety Concerns

EU To Probe Facebook, Instagram Over Children Addiction, Safety Concerns

4 weeks ago
1 min read

The European Union Commission (EU) has escalated its scrutiny of Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, by launching formal investigations under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The move follows growing concerns over the safety of children using these platforms, citing potential behavioral addictions and the propagation of what they term ‘rabbit-hole effects’.

In a statement released on Thursday, the commission expressed apprehension that Meta’s systems, including their algorithms, might be designed in ways that encourage addictive behaviors among young users. Commissioner Maria Gabrielle noted, “We are deeply concerned about the impact of these platforms on our children. Their safety and well-being are paramount.”

The investigations were triggered by Meta’s responses to a risk assessment report submitted in September 2023, which highlighted deficiencies in age verification methods and overall safety measures for minors. This prompted the commission to pursue a thorough examination, gathering additional evidence through interviews and inspections.

“The launch of formal proceedings empowers us to enforce the DSA more rigorously,” Commissioner Gabrielle stated. “We will consider interim measures and non-compliance decisions to ensure immediate corrective actions by Meta.”

Since their designation as Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) last year, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram have been under increased scrutiny. The DSA mandates stringent obligations on platforms with over 45 million monthly active users in the EU, aimed at safeguarding user rights and ensuring transparency in operations.

READ ALSO: EU Awards €1.8m Grants To Nigerian Universities For Green, Digital Skills Development

Earlier actions against Meta included concerns over deceptive advertising, management of political content, and the lack of effective tools for civic discourse monitoring. Similar investigations are also underway for TikTok, owned by Bytedance, focusing on issues ranging from advertising transparency to addictive design risks.

Penalties for breaches under the DSA can be severe, potentially amounting to 6% of a company’s global annual turnover. This regulatory framework underscores the EU’s commitment to holding tech giants accountable for their operations within the bloc, particularly concerning the protection of minors and the integrity of public discourse.

Meta has pledged cooperation with the commission’s investigation, stating its commitment to addressing regulatory concerns and enhancing safety measures across its platforms. The outcome of these investigations could set significant precedents for digital platform regulation globally, influencing standards for user protection and corporate responsibility in the digital age.

Emmanuel Ochayi is a journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, School of first choice and the nations pride. Emmanuel is keen on exploring writing angles in different areas, including Business, climate change, politics, Education, and others.

Emmanuel Ochayi is a journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, School of first choice and the nations pride. Emmanuel is keen on exploring writing angles in different areas, including Business, climate change, politics, Education, and others.

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