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Chairman Krishnamoorthi Presses for Documents About Facebook’s Role in Promoting Dangerous Online Content Targeting Women and Girls

Washington, D.C. (September 20, 2021)— Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg requesting documents and information on Facebook’s role in facilitating human trafficking content on its platforms and failing to address the effects of Instagram on the mental health and wellbeing of girls.

“I am concerned by reports that:  (1) Facebook has allowed its platform to be used for human trafficking and other illegal activity; and (2) Facebook has known of and disregarded Instagram’s detrimental effects on the mental health of teen girls,” Chairman Krishnamoorthi said. 

According to reports, Facebook’s own internal documents found that human trafficking and other illicit content are able to pervade its platform, despite such content violating Facebook’s own policies.  According to these same internal documents, Facebook employees reportedly raised concerns about the dangerous use of its platform with little to no action by Facebook executives to address them. 

The disturbing allegations against Facebook include:

  • “[H]uman traffickers in the Middle East used the site to lure women into abusive employment situations in which they were treated like slaves or forced to perform sex work”;
  • Facebook has allowed its platform to be used for “organ selling, pornography and government action against political dissent”;
  • Facebook has permitted users to post “videos of murders, incitements to violence, government threats against pro-democracy campaigners and advertisements for human trafficking”; and
  • “[A]rmed groups in Ethiopia used the site to incite violence against ethnic minorities.”

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has had detrimental effects on the mental health and wellbeing of teenage girls.  Internal documents revealed that Instagram can compound damage to teens already suffering from body image issues.  In a 2019 internal presentation, Instagram employees noted that “[w]e make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”  Another slide in the same presentation stated that “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.”  Other internal documents appear to show a link between suicidal ideation and Instagram.

Chairman Krishnamoorthi requested documents on Facebook’s role in facilitating suspected human trafficking and other illegal activity, and the effects of Instagram on the mental health of teen girls.

 

Click here to read the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

                

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