The American Federation of Teachers on Wednesday encouraged The leaders of its members ‘pension funds to support an independent evaluation of Facebook owner Meta’s risk management practices, which the teachers’ union said have failed to mitigate “Clear threats” The social networking company poses to kids and teenagers.
AFT President Randi Weingarten asked State and local pension fund trustees, whose funds hold 6.3 billion in Meta stock, to vote in favor of a shareholder resolution that would instruct Meta’s board of directors to hire a law firm to evaluate the board’s performance at managing the risks posed by Facebook and Instagram.
Weingarten said that AFT members have worked to support students suffering from depression, anxiety and other disorders that Weingarten attributed to Facebook and Instagram content.
In a filingMeta’s board denied taking a cavalier approach to risk management and recommended shareholders vote against the proposal, claiming a third-party evaluation was unnecessary because it would not result in appreciably better performance from the committee.
With 1.7 million members, the AFT is the second largest teachers’ union in the US after the National Education Association, which says it has 3 million members.
The AFT’s announcement came one day after the union hosted an online town hall event with Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who in 2021 leaked thousands of pages of the company’s internal documents to the Wall Street Journal. These documents showed the company knew some of its products harmed users: One document posted to Facebook’s internal messaging board claimed 32% of teen girls with body-image issues felt worse after using Instagram, the Wall Street Journal reported. Haugen told Congress that Facebook and Instagram knew how to make their platforms safer, but were reluctant to risk their profit margins to do so. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta (then Facebook), responded in a Facebook post by decrying The media’s “false picture” of the company based on Haugen’s leaks and claiming the company’s research found Instagram often had a positive effect on teenage girls’ emotions. Zuckerberg also said he has long advocated for greater government regulation of social media platforms. Despite these scandals, 55% of US adults still had a positive view of Facebook in November, according to a Morning Consult poll. About 69% of US adults use Facebook and about 40% use Instagram, Pew Research Center found in a 2021 poll.
Facebook Considered A Kids’ Social Network Once Before — But Parents Hated The Idea “(Forbes)
“Facebook Internal Research Found Instagram Can Be Very Harmful To Young Girls, Report Says” (Forbes)