The European Commission has taken a significant step by launching a formal investigation into Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, over concerns about child protection and addictive behavior on their platforms. This investigation, under the Digital Services Act (DSA), aims to assess Meta’s compliance with regulations and measures to protect children online and prevent potential harm caused by addictive algorithms. Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, expressed doubts about Meta’s efforts to meet its obligations under the DSA, particularly to reduce the risks young people in Europe face while using Facebook and Instagram. Thierry said

“The European Commission is concerned that Facebook and Instagram’s systems, including their algorithms, may encourage addictive online behavior in children and create a ‘rabbit hole’ effect.”

Concerns about addictive algorithms and child protection

The European Commission’s investigation focuses on several key aspects of ensuring the safety and well-being of minors on social media platforms. One of the main concerns is the potentially addictive nature of Facebook and Instagram, with algorithms that can lead to behavioral addiction and create what is called a “rabbit hole effect.” This effect entices users to consume increasingly problematic content. This content will also potentially affect their mental and emotional health.

Detailed areas to investigate

Thierry Breton highlighted the specific areas the EU will delve into during the investigation:

1. Addiction and Rabbit hole effect: The investigation will scrutinize the potential of platforms to promote addictive behavior and the mechanisms that can lead users, especially minors, into a continuous cycle of consuming content that may be harmful or addictive.

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2. Effectiveness of Age Verification Tools: The investigation will evaluate the tools and methods used by Meta to verify the age of users, particularly minors, to ensure that age-appropriate content and safety measures are available.

3. Privacy and security for minors: The EU wants to assess the level of privacy, safety and security provided to minors while using Facebook and Instagram, especially with regard to default privacy settings and the functioning of recommendation systems.

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Digital Services Act and Regulatory Measures

The DSA, which came into effect in August 2021, requires major online platforms such as Meta to adhere to strict regulations to combat illegal and harmful content on their platforms. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines of up to 6% of a company’s global annual turnover, underscoring the seriousness of ensuring a safe online environment, especially for vulnerable groups such as children.

Meta’s answer and past controversies

In response to the investigation, Meta highlighted its decade-long effort in developing tools and features aimed at protecting young users online and ensuring a safe digital experience. The company highlighted its age verification methods and its commitment to providing a safe environment for minors. Meta claims to take child protection seriously. However, the company has faced criticism and legal challenges in the past, including lawsuits for allegedly collecting data on children without parental consent and concerns about the impact of its platforms on children’s mental health.


The European Commission’s investigation into the Meta platforms, Facebook and Instagram, highlights the growing importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of minors in the digital age. By investigating potentially addictive algorithms and evaluating child protection measures, the EU aims to hold tech companies accountable for creating a safe online environment for all users, especially the most vulnerable. This investigation also serves as a significant step towards the implementation of regulatory frameworks such as the DSA. This will help mitigate risks and protect young people from potential harm online. What do you think of the latest EU investigation into Meta? Is it a good move to protect children? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below

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EU launched a formal probe into Meta over child protection