Facebook and Instagram are once again under scrutiny under the European Union's strict digital regulations

LONDON — The European Union on Thursday opened a new investigation into Facebook and Instagram over suspicions that they are failing to protect children online, in violation of the bloc's strict digital regulations for social media platforms.

It's the latest round of scrutiny for parent company Meta Platforms under the EU's 27-nation Digital Services Act, a sweeping set of regulations that came into effect last year aimed at cleaning up online platforms and protecting internet users.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said it was concerned that the algorithmic systems used by Facebook and Instagram to recommend content such as videos and posts could “exploit the weaknesses and inexperience” of children and become “addictive behavior” could stimulate. could amplify the so-called “rabbit hole” effect that leads users to increasingly disturbing content.

The committee is also investigating the use of Meta's age verification tools to prevent children from accessing Facebook or Instagram, or seeing inappropriate content. Only children aged 13 and over are allowed to use the platforms. It is also being investigated whether the company complies with DSA regulations that require a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors.

“We want young people to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online and have spent a decade developing more than 50 tools and policies to protect them,” Meta said in a prepared statement. “This is a challenge facing the entire industry. and we look forward to sharing details of our work with the European Commission.”

These are the latest DSA cases to focus on child protection under the DSA, which requires platforms to take strict measures to protect minors. The committee opened two separate investigations into TikTok earlier this year over concerns about the risks to children.

“We are not convinced that Meta has done enough to comply with DSA obligations – to limit the risks of negative impacts on the physical and mental health of young Europeans on its platforms Facebook and Instagram,” said European Commissioner Thierry Breton in a social media. after.

The cases announced on Thursday are not the first for Facebook and Instagram. They are already being investigated under the DSA over concerns that they are not doing enough to stop foreign disinformation in the run-up to the EU elections next month.

Social media platform X and e-commerce site AliExpress are also being investigated for their compliance with EU rules.

There is no deadline for completing the studies. Violations can result in fines of up to 6% of a company's annual global turnover.

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