Bipartisan coalition of attorneys general to go at Facebook for potential impact on youth mental health

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INDIANAPOLIS — A former Facebook employee turned whistleblower testified on Tuesday before Congress. Frances Haugen’s testimony detailed actions taken by the social media giant to market directly to kids, even if they knew their platforms may be hurting children. Now U.S. attorneys general are taking aim.

“What we are finding is that Facebook and the like are no different than other predators that we see in our office,” said Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita. “Whether it’s the tobacco companies who knew their product was bad, but continued to try to hook people, or opioid manufacturers who tried to do the same thing after they knew the bad they were doing.”

52 attorneys general around the country have formed a bipartisan coalition to hold Facebook accountable. They say internal research from the company shows they knowingly targeted younger users to get them hooked on the site, despite other data showing it may negatively impact a child’s mental health.

“Younger kids have a harder time with social media because you have to compare yourself to others,” explained social media user Haley Waugh. “[It] impacts self esteem because they are growing up in an environment where they are exposed to a lot of different people and personalities.”

“I have friends who can not disengage in arguments on social media and it follows them around,” added fellow social media user Cam Walls. “Someone says something horrific on the street, I walk away from him, maybe I say something back, but that doesn’t happen on social media anymore.”

Rokita says he will pursue Facebook and other tech giants to see if any of their practices harmed Indiana consumers.

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