Adam Mosseri will likely have a…

Adam Mosseri will likely have a rough reception in his debut in front of lawmakers….

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Instagram boss Adam Mosseri will testify before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.

Angela Lang/CNET

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri is scheduled to testify before US lawmakers on Wednesday, an appearance that comes as the photo-sharing app endures intense scrutiny for its effect on the mental health of young people.

The Senate hearing, titled “Protecting Kids Online: Instagram and Reforms for Young Users,” will focus on what the company, which is owned by Meta’s Facebook, knows about the impact of its service on young people. 

Mosseri’s testimony comes at an uncomfortable moment for Instagram and other Facebook services. Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower, leaked a trove of internal research to Congress and the US Securities and Exchange Commission before leaving the company in May. 

The documents served as the basis of a series of stories in The Wall Street Journal, including one that detailed how the social network’s own research showed Instagram to be “toxic” for teen girls, worsening body image issues and suicidal thoughts. Facebook, which recently rebranded as Meta, says that the research is being mischaracterized and that Instagram helps teens connect to family and friends. 

Senators are likely to make Mosseri, who is testifying for the first time, uncomfortable. In recent hearings, lawmakers have shown rare bipartisanship in bashing social media companies, though often for different reasons. 

When

The hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security will kick off at 11:30 a.m. PT/2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

Where

The hearing will be streamed on the subcommittee’s website and CNET’s YouTube channel.

What to expect

Mosseri will likely repeat Facebook’s talking points and tell senators that the company’s research, which Haugen captured in photos of an internal chat tool, are being taken out of context. He’ll also likely say that Instagram and Facebook conduct research on a range of topics in order to get a better sense of how people use its services.

He’ll almost assuredly point to new Instagram tools, including a feature that reminds people to take a break from the platform, to demonstrate that the company is serious about the mental health of its users. He’ll probably note that Instagram voluntarily pushed pause on Instagram Kids, a service the company was developing specifically for young users.

Like other social media executives who have spoken to Congress, Mosseri will likely point out that he’s a parent himself to give his testimony personal resonance.

None of that will likely mollify lawmakers, who have become increasingly combative with tech executives. Keep an eye on Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey, both Democrats, and Republican Marsha Blackburn to hold Mosseri’s feet to the fire.

“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,” Blumenthal said in a statement ahead of the hearing.

In September, Antigone Davis, who runs Facebook’s global safety operations, appeared before the same subcommittee. The Senate panel also held a hearing in October about online child safety with executives from Snapchat, TikTok and Google-owned YouTube. In November, a group of state attorneys general said it’s investigating whether Meta violated state consumer protection laws by promoting Instagram to children and teens despite knowing of the service’s harms. 

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