An internal investigation confirms that Instagram is "toxic" for teens

An internal investigation by Facebook found that Instagram, owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s company, is harmful to teenagers. 32 percent of adolescents said that when they feel problems with their body, Instagram makes them feel worse, is one of the conclusions of a report from March 2020, revealed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons with what they see on Instagram can alter the way young people perceive and describe themselves”Adds the report. From the company, for example, they did not confirm the information.

In 2018, Facebook began investigating the impact of the photo social network on the habits of its youngest users. And the toxicity of Instagram appeared in adolescents, especially among girls. “We are making the body image problem worse for one in three teenagers,” a 2019 slide on the impact on minors was stated. “Teenagers blame Instagram for the increase in cases of anxiety and depression,” was another conclusion.

In the groups of teenage girls with suicidal tendencies, 13 percent of British users and 6 percent of American users blamed Instagram for their wishes to take their own lives, according to the transcendent of the journalistic note.

40% of users on Instagram are under 23 years of age

The social network has a turnover of 100 billion dollars a year and It has 40 percent of its users who are under 23 years of age. An estimated 22 million teens in the United States use the app every day, more than four times Facebook’s five million daily. In turn, American teens spend 50 percent more time on Instagram than on Facebook. In the social network created by Zuckerberg in 2004, the sustained drop in its use among adolescents in the last decade is notable.

According to the American media, Facebook has “minimized the negative impact of Instagram” on adolescents, and did not disseminate the research or make it available to the scientists and legislators who have requested it. “Research we’ve seen shows that using social apps to connect with other people can be beneficial and positive for mental health”Said Zuckerberg, at a parliamentary hearing in March this year, when asked about the mental health of children.

Last May, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said research suggested that the app may have had “rather little effect” on teens. He assured that “in no way do I intend to minimize these problems. Some of the problems mentioned may not be generalized, but they do not stop having a great impact on some people.” In turn, he opined that Facebook was slow to see the problems that arose from connecting people in such a massive way.

“I have been pressing for a long time so that we understand our responsibility in a broader way,” he said in this regard. “For me, this is not airing out the dirty laundry. On the contrary. I am very proud of this research, ”he added.

The released documents state that Facebook has not moved to resolve these issues. It also revealed that the internal investigation had focus-groups and large-scale surveys of thousands of people, which compared user responses with the company’s data on the amount of time of use of Instagram.

Who carried out this work? Facebook employees from marketing, data science and product development areas, several of them with backgrounds in psychology and computer science. There were five submissions over the course of a year and a half, from early 2020 to mid-2021.

The results include that some of the problems that were detected are typical of Instagram and the use of social networks in general, and that Facebook executives reviewed the results. In turn, Zuckerberg himself mentioned it during a presentation in 2020. In fact, in March of this year, in a hearing before the United States Congress, the CEO defended the idea of ​​creating a social network derived from Instagram, aimed at for children under 13 years of age and suggested that the effect on adolescents had been studied.

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