Has Instagram violated state consumer protection laws in New Jersey and across the country?

A nationwide investigation now underway will look to find that out.

Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced Thursday that the Garden State is co-leading the probe as investigators try and determine whether Instagram induced children, teenagers and young adults to use the social media platform, "in ways that are potentially harmful to them."

AG Bruck explained that this national probe will also explore how the newly minted Meta Platforms, Inc. (until recently known as Facebook) went about getting these younger users to go on there and stay on there longer as well as looking into "the potential harms that may result from such extended engagement."

This investigation comes months after New Jersey and other states, Bruck said, submitted a letter to Facebook urging them (Meta) to not move forward with plans for a new version of Instagram that would be for those under the age of 13-years old.

Bruck said that the reason being was that, "emerging research suggests a nexus between increased time spent online by young persons – particularly on social media platforms – and such ill effects as depression, anxiety, isolation, body image issues, cyber-bullying, eating disorders, and sleeplessness, among others."

This investigation, in addition to looking into the practices put into play by Instagram, Facebook (Meta) but also trying to make these platforms safe and less tempting into dangerous practices and activities for children, teenagers and young adults.

“Parents are anxious about the effects of social media on their children’s wellbeing, and understandably so,” Acting Attorney General Bruck said in a statement. “We must ensure that social media platforms are not violating our laws or exposing our youth to mental and physical harms. And if we learn that companies like Meta knew that their products were harmful and tried to get kids hooked on them anyway, or otherwise violated our laws, we will take strong and aggressive action. That’s why a nationwide coalition is investigating, and that’s why I am proud New Jersey is taking a leadership role.”

Bruck went on to explain that this investigation, "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."

The NJ-AG's office was one of 44 in the nation urging Facebook to drop their Instagram plans for those 13 and younger back in May and the new bipartisan coalition investigating the social media platform includes AG's from Nebraska, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vermont.

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