Instagram chief and one-time Met Gala attendee Adam Mosseri will testify before Congress about his app’s impacts on younger users. While Mark Zuckerberg’s been in the congressional hot seat a few times in the past to discuss the impact of Facebook proper, this is the first time that Mosseri is being asked to testify about the Facebook (sorry, Meta) subsidiary.
Mosseri’s December 6 testimony, first reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, is fallout from the bipartisan backlash facing Instagram right now, almost all of which can be traced to a trove of leaked internal documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager.
The initial round of leaks — which included multiple internal studies on Instagram’s potential effects on the mental health of its younger users — has been a flashpoint for numerous lawmakers since these leaks were first reported in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. Since then, lawmakers have called for the company to stop its plans to roll out its “Instagram for Kids” app and publicly grilled Antigone Davis, Meta’s global head of safety, about Instagram’s effects on kids.
During Davis’s testimony this past September, she told Congress that the company disputed the premise that Instagram was overtly harmful to younger users, since — as others have rightfully pointed out — there are some pretty big holes in the company’s own research. In response, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who will lead the December hearing, wrote to Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO, directly, asking either him or Mosseri to correct the record in front of Congress. Mosseri seemingly drew the short straw, so he’s going to be the one heading to Capitol Hill next month.
According to the Times, Blumenthal plans to quiz the Instagram lead on the way the platform’s algorithms “can send children into dangerous rabbit holes,” like those related to disordered eating and other forms of self-harm. Previously, Blumenthal accused the company of lying to Senate officials by cherry-picking documents to publish that paint a rosier picture of the company than the one being trumpeted by the company’s own researchers.
“We continue to work with the committee to find a date for Adam to testify on the important steps Instagram is taking,” Meta spokeswoman Dani Lever said in an email. The company also directed us to a tweet put out today from Mosseri, where he artfully dodges any reference to his upcoming date with Congress, but still manages to include lots of goodies about Instagram, his kids, Instagram’s effects on kids (including his own), and the way the company thinks about “young people and teens.”