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Adam Mosseri has agreed to testify in a hearing about the impacts of social media apps on children and teens. That topic has quickly become one of Washington’s favorites, making this upcoming hearing one to watch.

Let’s jump into the news.

Senate to hear from Instagram head 

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, will testify before the Senate early next month about the social media platform’s influence on children.

The appearance in front of the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee is scheduled for the week of Dec. 6.

“After bombshell reports about Instagram’s toxic impacts, we want to hear straight from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that push poisonous content to children driving them down rabbit holes to dark places, and what it will do to make its platform safer,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the panel’s chair, said in a statement.

“I appreciate Mr. Mosseri voluntarily coming to the Subcommittee and hope that he will support specific legislative reforms and solutions, particularly in its immensely potent algorithms,” he added.

Mosseri uploaded a video to his Twitter on Wednesday touting the work the platform has done to improve experiences online for young users.

“These are important issues but we have shared goals,” he said, referring to Congress. “We all want young people to be safe when they’re online.”

How social media affects teens and children has cut through the general uproar about Big Tech companies to become a major focus for Washington.

Documents on Meta — the newly formed parent of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — provided to Congress and reporters by whistleblower Frances Haugen have made the company a particular target.

Read more.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKED TO DEPRESSION, AGAIN

A new study has linked social media use with symptoms of depression among older adults, joining other research showing increased mental health issues among younger adults and adolescents using social media.

The study, published on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open, surveyed 5,395 adults with a mean age of 56 between May 2020 and May 2021. The researchers asked respondents to fill out a mental health questionnaire and report what social media sites they use: Snapchat, LinkedIn, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or Youtube.

After adjusting for other factors, including participants’ living situations, the pandemic and news consumption, researchers found that social media’s effects on mental health “are not limited to young adults.”

The study also showed that Snapchat, Facebook and TikTok were most frequently associated with reports of increased depressive symptoms in adults.

Read more.

PAY UP JUUL

E-cigarette maker Juul will pay $14.5 million to Arizona, and will no longer market or sell its products to young people in the state, as part of a settlement for a consumer fraud lawsuit. 

The settlement announced by state Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) Tuesday ends a lawsuit filed in January 2020 against the company for allegedly illegally marketing its products to young people while misleading them on the risks.

Brnovich, who is running for Senate, alleged that Juul was “exploiting young people with tactics such as fruit flavors, social media campaigns, and free giveaways.”

As part of the settlement, Juul denies the allegations and does not admit any wrongdoing. But the company agreed to change some aspects of how it does business in the state. 

The company will not sell to Arizonans under 21 years of age and will not make online sales to anyone who has not been age-verified by an independent age-verification system. 

Juul also agreed to implement a strict retailer monitoring program where it will do compliance checks of at least 25 stores per month across Arizona for two years and take action against those that illegally sell to underage smokers.

Read more.

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: We need to better prepare for an aging America

Lighter click: Marathon duck supports public transport

Notable links from around the web:

Wirecutter’s Black Friday Pick Is a Fair Contract (Discourse Blog / Jack Crosbie)

A Tech Whistle-Blower Helps Others Speak Out (The New York Times / Erin Woo)

Black Friday Is Causing Toxic Traffic Jams At Us Ports And Warehouses (The Verge / Justine Calma)

 

One last thing: T-Mobile settles 

Wireless carrier T-Mobile has agreed to pay nearly $20 million in a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after an outage resulted in thousands of failed 911 calls, The Associated Press reported.

The agency announced Tuesday that T-Mobile will also commit to improving communications of outages to emergency call centers as part of its settlement. 

The FCC said it was a “complete failure” that thousands of 911 calls didn’t go through due to the outage, adding there were calls that did go through but without key information such as callback numbers and location data, according to the AP. 

A 12-hour nationwide outage from T-Mobile caused more than 23,000 failed 911 calls in June 2020. 

Read more.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s technology and cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Monday.

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