Social media platforms have made clear that self-regulation is not working, the White House asserted on Monday, saying reports about efforts to attract young users and negative effects on teenagers' mental health are troubling.
"As we saw the revelations that came out in that interview, in our view, this is just the latest in a series of revelations about social media platforms that make clear that self-regulation is not working. That's long been the president's view and been the view of this administration," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
Psaki was responding to questions about the revealing interview by Frances Haugen, a former product manager hired to help protect against election interference on Facebook, in this regard.
"They validate the significant concern that the president and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed about how social media giants operate and the power they've amassed," Psaki said.
"Reports in recent weeks, and I think obviously the whistleblower came forward last night in the report, about efforts to attract young users and negative effects on teenagers' mental health are certainly troubling. They're hardly isolated incidents. And so, our effort is going to be: continue to support fundamental reforms, efforts to address these issues," Psaki said.
"Obviously, that would be up to the purview of Congress, but certainly, we view these as continuing in a series of revelations about the power of these platforms," said the White House press secretary.
Meanwhile, Senator Edward Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, wrote to Facebook demanding answers after new research revealed that the company failed to meet commitments it made regarding the promotion of harmful advertisements to teen Facebook users.
"These findings cast serious doubt on Facebook's compliance with promises your employees have publicly made, and they are particularly concerning in light of other recent reports, which suggest that Facebook has direct knowledge that its platforms are harmful to young people," Markey wrote in his letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
"I request a detailed explanation of the apparent inconsistency between Facebook's commitments and your platform's practices, as well as a detailed review of the steps you are currently taking and plan to take to stop Facebook from allowing teen users to be targeted with inappropriate and dangerous content," he said.
According to research conducted by the Campaign for Accountability's Tech Transparency Project, as recently as September 2021, Facebook allowed advertisers to target teen users as young as 13-years-old with inappropriate and dangerous content, including advertisements promoting "pill abuse, alcoholic beverages, anorexia, smoking, dating services, and gambling."