ST. PAUL (WJON News) - Social media platforms and artificial intelligence are under scrutiny in Minnesota.

In 2023, the Minnesota Legislature funded an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into the negative effects, if any, of social media usage. The report was compiled by Dr. Ravi Iyer, a technologist and academic psychologist who is currently the managing director of USC Marshall School’s Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making, and Alex Barkley, a law clerk with the Attorney General’s office.

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The study found:

  • Many consumers, especially youth, are experiencing bullying and harassment, facilitated by the choices of technology platforms.
  • Many consumers are having experiences with unwanted disturbing, graphic, and sexual content, often recommended by AI-powered algorithms.
  • Many users experience envy and upward social comparison, which are encouraged by technology platform dynamics.
  • Many cases of manipulation and fraud begin with unwanted contact from strangers and are facilitated by loose privacy defaults and high rate limits (i.e., how many actions a user can take in a given period), with especially serious consequences for youth.
  • Platforms facilitate the misuse of user information and images, including that of younger users.
  • Excessive and compulsive usage of technology, facilitated by systems that are optimized for attention, displaces beneficial activities like sleep and in-person socialization.
  • Algorithms often exhibit bias, and the integration of increasingly powerful AI into more algorithms is likely to accelerate this trend.

Among the more shocking findings:

  • 28.3 percent of Instagram users report witnessing bullying and harassment in a seven-day period.
  • 15 percent report seeing online pornography by age 12.
  • 26 percent of adolescents in Utah report getting involved in an unwanted conversation online, while a Wall Street Journal story reported that 1 of every 8 users under age 18 say they experienced unwanted sexual advances on Instagram.

Attorney General Ellison says the report will be a blueprint for future action from the legislature.

To read the final report, find the report here.

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