EU launches investigation into Facebook and Instagram over child safety

The investigation comes after Meta submitted a risk assessment report in September that raised concerns about the platforms’ practices and their impact on child safety.

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The EU regulators announced on Thursday that Meta Platforms’ social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, will undergo investigation for potential violations of the EU online content rules about child safety, potentially resulting in significant fines. The scrutiny follows the EU’s implementation of the Digital Services Act (DSA) last year, which places greater responsibility on tech companies to address illegal and harmful content on their platforms.

The European Commission has expressed concerns that Facebook and Instagram have not adequately addressed risks to children, prompting an in-depth investigation. Issues highlighted include the potential for the platforms’ systems and algorithms to promote behavioural addictions among children and facilitate access to inappropriate content, leading to what the Commission refers to as ‘rabbit-hole effects’. Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding Meta’s age assurance and verification methods.

Why does it matter?

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is already under the EU scrutiny over election disinformation, particularly concerning the upcoming European Parliament elections. Violations of the DSA can result in fines of up to 6% of a company’s annual global turnover, indicating the seriousness with which the EU regulators are approaching these issues. Meta’s response to the investigation and any subsequent actions will be closely monitored as the EU seeks to enforce stricter regulations on tech giants to protect online users, especially children, from harm.