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April 13, 2023
Facebook has consistently found that its Instagram app is harmful to a number of teenagers, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Tuesday.
The Journal cited Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed. One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.
“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers reportedly wrote. Facebook also reportedly found that 14% of boys in the U.S. said Instagram made them feel worse about themselves.
On Tuesday, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said it stands by its research to understand young people’s experiences on the app. “The question on many people’s minds is if social media is good or bad for people,” wrote Karina Newton, head of public policy at Instagram, in a blog post. “The research on this is mixed; it can be both. At Instagram, we look at the benefits and the risks of what we do.”
The Journal report drew criticism of Facebook from lawmakers on Tuesday. Sens. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, and Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said they’d be launching a probe into Facebook’s knowledge of Instagram’s reported negative impact on teens.
“It is clear that Facebook is incapable of holding itself accountable,” the senators said in a statement. “When given the opportunity to come clean to us about their knowledge of Instagram’s impact on young users, Facebook provided evasive answers that were misleading and covered up clear evidence of significant harm.”
Blackburn and Blumenthal said they’re in touch with the Facebook whistleblower and will be “seeking further documents and pursuing witness testimony.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CNBC