A bipartisan group of attorneys general said Thursday they opened an investigation against Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, for promoting their social media app, Instagram, while knowing about the psychological and emotional harm caused by the service .

At least nine states are involved in the investigation, including California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Vermont.

Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general and one of the directors of the investigation, said states are investigating whether the company’s actions violate state consumer protection laws and endanger the public.

“Facebook, now Meta, has failed to protect young people on its platforms and has instead chosen to ignore or, in some cases, duplicate known tampering that poses a real threat to physical and mental health – exploitation of children for the sake of profit, ”said Ms. Healey.

The move comes after a plethora of documents from a former employee who suggested detailed research within the social media company that suggested teenagers had body image issues while using Instagram. The documents, called The Facebook Papers, were shared with journalists in October. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the documents and the Problems with Instagram with the help of Frances Haugen, the whistleblower.

Doug Peterson, the Nebraska attorney general and another investigator general, said states were “investigating the techniques Meta uses to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harm from such prolonged engagement.”

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to be tampered with for extended screen time and data extraction, it becomes imperative for attorneys general to involve our investigative agency in accordance with our consumer protection laws,” Peterson said in a tweet.

The Facebook papers are tens of thousands of pages and gigabytes of data and show a company grappling with many problems that are a by-product of its huge size and billions of users, and issues like misinformation, addiction and manipulation of users all over the world Embrace the world. Much of the information came in the form of detailed reports to investigate problems created by the company’s research department.

Meta said the research efforts are aimed at addressing the issues they identified with the aim of improving the company’s products and services.

The documents show that around a third of teenage girls in a survey who already felt bad about their bodies said that Instagram made them feel worse. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women see and describe themselves,” the documents say.

Meta has denied the characterization of the first coverage of Instagram’s problems, saying that the story lacked context and key information was left out.

Meta officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

This is a groundbreaking story. Check back for updates.

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