In a recent report titled “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show,” the Wall Street Journal claims that Facebook is aware that its photo-sharing app Instagram can have a negative effect on the body image of young women.
Facebook reportedly spoke to researchers within Instagram, which it owns, who were studying how users interacted on its platform and attempting to understand the types of universal experiences they shared. The researchers presented their findings to Facebook which concluded that a significant number of teen girls that use the Instagram platform develop body image issues. Among the researchers' findings are that Instagram makes body image issues worse and that teens blame the platform for an increase in anxiety and depression.
The Wall Street Journal writes:
“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook's internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.
“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram, one presentation showed.
Notably, many of the slides outright admits that Instagram appeared to be the cause of many of these issues, rather than attempting to place the blame on overall media depictions of female bodies. Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in May that the research he had seen suggested that Instagram's effect on teen mental health was likely “quite small.”
Mosseri said in a recent interview: “In no way do I mean to diminish these issues…. Some of the issues mentioned in this story aren't necessarily widespread, but their impact on people may be huge.” He added that the research into the mental-health effects on teens was valuable and that he was glad that Facebook was focusing on the issue of mental health. “I've been pushing very hard for us to embrace our responsibilities more broadly,” he said.
He added that he was not ashamed of the release of the internal research documents, stating: “For me, this isn't dirty laundry. I'm actually very proud of this research.”
Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org