Facebook Attempts To Push Back Against Report Which Called Instagram ‘Toxic’ For Teenage Girls

Facebook shared additional details on its internal research on Instagram's impact on teenage girls on Sunday. This was in response to a Wall Street Journal investigation that cited a leaked report showing evidence that Instagram played a role causing teenage girls to have poor body image.

The Wall Street Journal cited an internal Facebook report two weeks ago that found that 1 in 3 teenage girls had body image problems due to Instagram. AFP via Getty Images

The Key Facts

Pratiti Raychoudhury, Facebook Vice President and Head of Research PratitiRaychoudhury, dismissed Wall Street Journals' assessment of her internal research. She also rebutted claims that Instagram is toxic for teenage girls. Raychoudhury stated that many teenagers had told the company that Instagram helped them. However, the Wall Street Journals assessment of the internal research was flawed. The study relied only on 40 teens and was meant to highlight the worst aspects of Instagram. Despite this statement, Facebook has not made public all data from the research and the March 2020 presentation slide deck that were cited in WSJs reporting. Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook, tweeted that slides had been shared with Congress before the hearing and that the company was looking into how it could be made available to the public.

Important Quote

Raychoudhury stated that the slide in internal presentation titled We make body images worse for 1 out 3 teenage girls was a headline. However, our research has shown that one third of the teenage girls who said they had body image problems reported that Instagram made them feel worse than one in three other teenage girls.

Chief Critic

Many critics have criticized Facebook for not publishing the entire internal report. New York Times Ryan Mac noted, via Twitter: The blog post is fundamentally in conflict with the research. Facebook claims that the study showed that Instagram is good for teens. However, it later revealed that the results were not reliable. So... what is the answer?

Important Background

The Wall Street Journal published an investigative article citing internal Facebook studies that found that Instagram's photo-sharing platform was having negative effects on a large portion of its young users, particularly teenage girls. Report highlighted slides from presentations that featured findings from a deep dive into teen mental health. It was found that Instagram had a negative impact on body image amongst one third of its users, particularly teenage girls. Teens also blamed Instagram for increasing their anxiety and depression.

What to Watch

Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head for safety, will appear before the enate Commerce Subcommittee on Thursday to address the findings of the WSJ story. This hearing is part a Sens. After the publication of the story, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Marsha Blackburn(R-Tenn.), initiated an investigation. At the time, lawmakers stated that it was clear that Facebook is incapable to hold itself responsible. According to Wall Street Journals, Facebook's leadership was focused on growth at all costs and valued profits more than the lives and health of children and teens.

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Facebook claims Instagram is safe for teens despite a damning WSJ report (The verge)

Facebook Knows Instagram is Toxic for Teen Girls. Company Documents Show (Wall Street Journal).