Facebook is currently under investigation for allegedly allowing child trafficking and illegal drug trade in its platform.
The United States Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety held a hearing last week on Facebook's "active role in endangering children online." The hearing is entitled, "Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, & Mental Health Harms," and was attended by Facebook Global Head of Safety Angione Davis.
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, who is a member of the subcommittee, is leading the investigation with its Chair Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. Blackburn announced plans to conduct the probe in mid-September citing a report of the Wall Street Journal that revealed Facebook is set to increase its profits despite having a negative effect on children who "are being exposed to safety and privacy issues including data collection, aggressive marketing, and sexual exploitation."
"It is clear that Facebook is incapable of holding itself accountable. The Wall Street Journal's reporting reveals Facebook's leadership to be focused on a growth-at-all-costs mindset that valued profits over the health and lives of children and teens," Blackburn and Blumenthal said in a joint statement.
The senators pointed out that they have previously requested in August documents from Facebook regarding its "internal research on the potentially harmful impact" it has on the mental health of children besides their safety from exploitation.
"When given the opportunity to come clean to us about their knowledge of Instagram's impact on young users, Facebook provided evasive answers that were misleading and covered up clear evidence of significant harm," the senators disclosed.
"We are in touch with a Facebook whistleblower and will use every resource at our disposal to investigate what Facebook knew and when they knew it--including seeking further documents and pursuing witness testimony. The Wall Street Journal's blockbuster reporting may only be the tip of the iceberg," they added.
During the hearing, Blackburn explained that the hearing is in line with prior efforts regarding "privacy, Big Tech responsibility" and is something "long time coming" since they intend that the "public is aware" of "what is happening in the virtual space."
Blackburn raised five issues prompting the hearing: "security moms are fed up with Facebook," "Facebook created a perfect storm of teen misery," "Instagram schemed to attract more children onto their platforms," "Facebook puts profit above all else," and the broken trust people have on Facebook. The senator highlighted that "Facebook is actively aware that their site is actively harming children."
"How did they do know this? Because they performed the research themselves," Blackburn revealed.
Blackburn also disclosed Facebook's "scheme" to bring younger children into their platform being aware that "underaged children are using their platform" by creating "secondary accounts that they can hide from their parents."
"Facebook is also aware of harmful content in their site," Blackburn continued, "such as coercing women into domestic servitude yet they chose to do nothing until Apple threatened to pull Facebook from the app store."
"In fact, this seems to be a recurring theme with this company. 'Do everything and anything to mold the world into your own image, your own profit, without any regard for any harm that is to be done because your focus is your own pocket," Blackburn pointed out.
Blackburn reminded Facebook on their "legal and moral obligation" when it comes to collecting children's data to use for their company's profiteering strategies. She raised that parents do not want the platform doing this on their children. She promised that the hearing intends to hold Facebook accountable for their malpractices.
Over the weekend, Blackburn also revealed that new information she got show that the Big Tech company is also turning "a blind eye towards harmful content on their platform" when it comes to the illegal drug trade that is passing through the southern border.