Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on January 31, 2024 in Washington, DC.

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Parent company of Facebook Meta on Thursday was hit by a major investigation by the European Union into alleged violations of the bloc’s tough online content law regarding safety risks to children.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said in a statement that it is investigating whether the social media giant’s Facebook and Instagram platforms “may encourage behavioral addictions in children, as well as create so-called ‘rabbit hole effects.’

The commission added that it was concerned about age verification on Meta platforms.

“We want young people to have a safe, age-appropriate experience online, and we’ve spent a decade developing more than 50 tools and policies designed to protect them,” a Meta spokesperson told CNBC via email.

“This is a challenge facing the whole industry and we look forward to sharing details of our work with the European Commission.”

The commission said its decision to open an investigation comes on the back of a preliminary analysis of the risk assessment report provided by Meta in September 2023.

The EU said it would carry out a thorough investigation into Meta’s child protection measures “as a matter of priority”. The unit may continue to gather evidence through requests for information, interviews or inspections.

The Commission may consider the commitments made by Meta to address its concerns.

Meta and other US tech giants have increasingly found themselves in the EU’s spotlight following the introduction of the bloc’s landmark Digital Services Act, a ground-breaking law from the European Commission that seeks to tackle harmful content.

Under the EU’s DSA, companies can be fined up to 6% of their global annual revenue for violations. The bloc is yet to fine tech giants under its new law.

In December 2023, the EU opened infringement proceedings against X, the company formerly known as Twitter, for alleged failure to combat disinformation and content manipulation.

The commission is also investigating Meta for alleged violations of the DSA related to its handling of election disinformation.

In April, the bloc launched an investigation into the firm and said it was concerned that Meta had not done enough to combat disinformation ahead of upcoming European Parliament elections.

The EU is not the only body to take action against Meta over child safety concerns.

In the US, the attorney general of New Mexico is suing the company over allegations that Facebook and Instagram enable child sexual abuse, solicitation and trafficking.

A Meta spokesman at the time said the company was deploying “sophisticated technology” and taking other preventative steps to eradicate predators.