Home EU regulators to probe Meta over child safety concerns

EU regulators to probe Meta over child safety concerns


  • EU regulators launch investigation into Meta for potential breaches of online content rules on child safety.
  • Concerns focus on Facebook and Instagram's impact on children's physical and mental health.
  • DSA requires adherence to harmful content rules, threatening fines of up to 6% of annual turnover.

European Union (EU) regulators have confirmed another investigation against Meta over concerns the social media giant has potentially breached online content rules on child safety.

As part of the Digital Services Act (DSA) which took effect last year in the European bloc, companies are compelled to adhere to act on harmful content or face potential, substantial fines.

Specifically, Facebook and Instagram are being probed to determine if they are having “negative effects” on the “physical and mental health” of children.

On Thursday (May 16), the European Commission confirmed it had opened formal proceedings, with the EU executive body also wary that Meta is also not doing enough on age assurance and verification methods.

“The Commission is concerned that the systems of both Facebook and Instagram, including their algorithms, may stimulate behavioural addictions in children, as well as create so-called ‘rabbit-hole effects’,” said the statement.

EU challenges tech industry to comply with DSA

Several big tech firms have been targeted by the EU for potential breaches of the DSA (DSA), which threatens financial punishment of up to 6% of annual global turnover.

Meta, which also owns WhatsApp and Threads, insists it has “spent a decade developing more than 50 tools and policies” to protect children. “This is a challenge the whole industry is facing, and we look forward to sharing details of our work with the European Commission,” added a company spokesperson.

The ‘rabbit-hole effect’ alluded to above, refers to how algorithms work on modern social media apps, with a user viewing one piece of content leading on to another of a similar nature. This can become a pattern over an extended session of scrolling or from repeated suggestions of content to watch.

In the UK, regulators are also closely monitoring how the technology works with the UK communications watchdog Ofcom warning algorithms pushing harmful content are causing concern.

The body is preparing to enforce the Online Safety Act, as it revealed many young children are using social media accounts, sometimes with parental knowledge, despite the minimum user age being set at 13.

Image credit: Ideogram

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Graeme Hanna
Tech Journalist

Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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