Today, the Commission has opened formal proceedings to assess whether Meta, the provider of Facebook and Instagram, may have breached the Digital Services Act (DSA) in areas linked to the protection of minors. 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’. In addition, the Commission is also concerned about age-assurance and verification methods put in place by Meta.

Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Today we are taking another step to ensure safety for young online users. With the Digital Services Act we established rules that can protect minors when they interact online. We have concerns that Facebook and Instagram may stimulate behavioural addiction and that the methods of age verification that Meta has put in place on their services is not adequate and will now carry on an in-depth investigation. We want to protect young people’s mental and physical health.”

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “Today we open formal proceedings against Meta. We are not convinced that it has done enough to comply with the DSA obligations to mitigate the risks of negative effects to the physical and mental health of young Europeans on its platforms Facebook and Instagram. We will now investigate in-depth the potential addictive and “rabbit hole” effects of the platforms, the effectiveness of their age verification tools, and the level of privacy afforded to minors in the functioning of recommender systems. We are sparing no effort to protect our children.”

Today’s opening of proceedings is based on a preliminary analysis of the risk assessment report sent by Meta in September 2023, Meta’s replies to the Commission’s formal requests for information (on the protection of minors and the methodology of the risk assessment), publicly available reports as well as the Commission’s own analysis. On 30 April 2024, the Commission had already opened formal proceedings against Meta, in relation to both Facebook and Instagram, on deceptive advertising, political content, notice and action mechanisms, data access for researchers, as well as on the non-availability of an effective third-party real-time civic discourse and election-monitoring tool ahead of the European Parliament elections.

Source: European Commission

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