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The EU Is Investigating Facebook and Instagram Algorithms for Triggering Behavioral Addictions in Kids


May 20, 2024

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The EU Is Investigating Facebook and Instagram Algorithms for Triggering Behavioral Addictions in Kids

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings against Meta in an investigation targeting Facebook and Instagram. The goal is to determine if the company has breached the Digital Services Act (DSA), especially when it comes to minors.

This investigation doesn’t come out of the blue. In September 2023, the European Commission asked Meta to provide further information regarding the measures they took to protect minors in relation to the DSA, particularly regarding the risks to mental health and physical health and on the use of their services by minors.

It turns out Meta's response has triggered the proceedings as the systems and algorithms used by Facebook and Instagram may stimulate behavioral addictions in children, as well as create so-called “rabbit-hole effects.” Furthermore, the systems Meta put in place to prevent kids from accessing their services might not be sufficient.

"Today we are taking another step to ensure safety for young online users. With the Digital Services Act we established rules that can protect minors when they interact online," said Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager.

"We have concerns that Facebook and Instagram may stimulate behavioural addiction and that the methods of age verification that Meta has put in place on their services is not adequate and will now carry on an in-depth investigation. We want to protect young people's mental and physical health."

Thierry Breton, EU's Commissioner for Internal Market, said the EU will spare no efforts to protect children. It will even investigate the level of privacy afforded to minors by each service, he said.

Less than a month ago, the European Commission opened another formal proceeding against Meta, in relation to both Facebook and Instagram, on deceptive advertising, political content, notice and action mechanisms, and much more.




Silviu is a seasoned writer who followed the technology world for almost two decades, covering topics ranging from software to hardware and everything in between.

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