Skip to content

EU launches formal probe into Meta’s impact on minors’ addictions

  • by
  • 3 min read

The European Commission has initiated formal proceedings to investigate potential breaches of the Digital Services Act (DSA) by Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. This action comes in response to growing concerns about the platforms’ impact on minors’ behavioural addictions.

The Commission will primarily assess whether Meta’s systems, including algorithms, have contributed to the so-called ‘rabbit-hole effects.’ Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding Meta’s age assurance and verification methods.

The decision to open formal proceedings was based on a thorough review of Meta’s risk assessment report from September 2023, their responses to the Commission’s inquiries, public reports, and the Commission’s independent analysis.

“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 are not adequate and will now carry on an in-depth investigation. We want to protect young people’s mental and physical health,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for Europe Fit for the Digital Age.

Key areas of investigation include:

  • Risk assessment and mitigation: The Commission will evaluate Meta’s adherence to DSA obligations concerning the design of Facebook’s and Instagram’s interfaces, particularly concerning minors’ vulnerabilities and potential addictive behaviours.
  • Access to inappropriate content: The EU will assess Meta’s age-verification tools’ effectiveness in preventing minors from accessing inappropriate content and determine whether these measures are reasonable and proportionate.
  • Privacy and security measures: The Commission will ensure that Meta has implemented appropriate measures to safeguard minors’ privacy, safety, and security, especially concerning default privacy settings and recommender systems.

If found guilty, Meta could be charged with infringement of Articles 28, 34, and 35 of the DSA. However, it’s important to note that initiating proceedings does not predetermine the outcome and leaves room for further investigations.

Furthermore, the Commission’s next steps involve a thorough investigation, including gathering additional evidence through interviews, inspections, and requests for information. This process is prioritised, indicating the seriousness with which the Commission views these allegations.

The initiation of formal proceedings shifts the responsibility of supervising DSA compliance from national authorities to the Commission, underscoring the gravity of the situation and the potential impact on digital services regulation in the EU.

This development adds to Meta’s ongoing scrutiny, as the Commission had previously opened formal proceedings against them on various other issues, such as deceptive advertising, political content, data access, and election monitoring tools.

In January 2024, Consumer Reports revealed extensive surveillance and data collection by Meta. Now, with the advent of AI, Meta has become a privacy threat.

Meta began rolling out DMA-compliant options across platforms to comply with the DMA.

In the News: Microsoft unveils Proteus Controller for gamers with disabilities for $299

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here:

Exit mobile version