Attorney General Ellison joins nationwide investigation into Instagram’s impact on young people

Broad group of attorneys general concerned for safety and well-being of children; examining potential violations of consumer-protection laws

November 18, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today joined a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform Instagram to children and young adults, despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. Attorneys general across the country are examining whether the company violated state consumer-protection laws and put the public at risk. 

“My job is to help Minnesotans of all ages live with dignity, safety, and respect. This is why I’ve joined a bipartisan, nationwide investigation into Meta about the impact of Instagram on younger users,” Attorney General Ellison said. “While I cannot provide detail about an active investigation, we are seeking information on how Meta grew and increased the engagement of young users on Instagram and whether Meta violated Minnesota’s consumer-protection laws by providing and promoting a product to children that Meta appears to know cause them harm.” 

The investigation targets, among other things, the techniques Meta used to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement. Today’s announcement follows recent reports revealing that Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of physical- and mental-health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.  

AG Ellison has been concerned about the negative impacts of social media platforms on Minnesota’s youngest residents. In May 2021, he joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general in urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13

Leading the investigation, which involves a broad group of states across the country, is a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont.