A group of US senators is demanding that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg hand over troves of emails and documents that could show how the company handled the knowledge that its platforms could harm the mental health of teens.
In a letter dated Tuesday and addressed to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the lawmakers cited recent whistleblower testimony alleging that the company had long ignored or buried warnings that Instagram or Facebook could be harmful to young users.
The letter also cites newly unsealed allegations in a lawsuit brought by the state of Massachusetts that Zuckerberg personally vetoed efforts, including proposals from his most senior lieutenants, to invest more in user well-being initiatives.
“It now seems clear that the root of Meta’s repeated failure to act to enhance the safety of its products starts at the top,” said the letter signed by a bipartisan group including Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal; Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn; Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin; South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham; Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Missouri Republican Josh Hawley.
Meta has said in response to the allegations by former Facebook engineering director Arturo Bejar and Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell that it has invested significantly in tools for parents and teens, offering 30 features to help them control their experiences on its platforms.
The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter. Meta spokesman Andy Stone said that the company is in touch with the members who signed the letter.
But Tuesday’s letter blasts Meta for having “concealed and misrepresented its extensive knowledge about the threats to young people on its platforms” and claims Meta has provided evasive answers when confronted on the issue by US lawmakers in the past.
The letter further accuses Meta of showing an “apparent willful disregard” for young people’s well-being, of “misrepresentations to Congress” and of “profiting from threats” to user safety.
The letter requests a response by Nov. 30 and calls for Meta to provide its correspondence related to Bejar’s warnings to executives, as well as senior leaders’ own correspondence with Zuckerberg about proposed investments in user well-being.