The American tech giant’s platforms, Facebook and Instagram, may “exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors,” the European Commission said.

European Union regulators on Thursday opened investigations into the American tech giant Meta for the potentially addictive effects Instagram and Facebook have on children, an action with far-reaching implications because it cuts to the core of how the company’s products are designed.

Meta’s products may “exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors” to create behavioral dependencies that threaten their mental well-being, the European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-member bloc, said in a statement. E.U. regulators could ultimately fine Meta up to 6 percent of its global revenue, which was $135 billion last year, as well as force other product changes.

The investigations are part of a growing effort by governments around the world to rein in services like Instagram and TikTok to protect minors. Meta has for years faced criticism that

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