Facebook Denies Instagram is “Toxic for Teens”



Facebook denies claims made by The Wall Street Journal about Instagram being “toxic for teen girls”. In its Newsroom, Facebook posted the following claims:

  •  Contrary to the Wall Street Journal’s characterization, Instagram’s research shows that on 11 of 12 well-being issues, teenage girls who said they struggled with those difficult issues also said that Instagram made them better rather than worse.
  •  This research, like external research on these issues, found teens report having both positive and negative experiences with social media.
  • We do internal research to find out how we can best improve the experience for our teens, and our research has informed product changes as well as new resources.

CNBC reported that Facebook executive Antigone Davis, global head of safety, will testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection on September 30, 2021. The hearing focuses on The Wall Street Journal’s article that shows Instagram had a negative effect on many teen girls’ mental health.

Personally, it sounds to me like Facebook got caught, and is trying to salvage its reputation before the Senate subcommittee hearing begins.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled: “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show”. According to The Verge, that information came from leaked documents that had been leaked to The Wall Street Journal.

The Verge pointed out some of what The Wall Street Journal’s findings:

  • A study by Facebook of teen Instagram users in the US and UK found that more than 40% of those who reported feeling “unattractive” said the feelings started when using Instagram.
  • Research reviewed by Facebook’s top executives concluded that Instagram was engineered towards greater “social comparison” than rival apps like TikTok and Snapchat. TikTok is focused on performance and Snapchat is uses jokey filters that focus on the face. Instagram spotlights users’ bodies and lifestyles.
  •  “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said internal research by Facebook presented in 2019, and that “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups”.
  • Facebook found that among the teens who said they had suicidal thoughts, 13 percent of UK users and 6 percent of US users said these impulses could be tracked back to the app.

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