Instagram’s dangerous for young girls-FB knew & hid the data

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Senator Blumenthal’s office created a fake account of a 13-year-old girl who was following accounts on eating disorders. Within a day, recommendations were exclusively filled with accounts promoting self-injury. 

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A hearing was convened by the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security after internal documents regarding Facebook’s findings were disclosed to the Wall Street Journal by a whistleblower at the company.

The documents showed that Facebook found that Instagram makes body image issues worse for a substantial number of teen girls and is blamed by teens for increases in anxiety and depression. In some cases, the app led to body-image problems such as eating disorders, as well as suicidal thoughts, the research showed.

“We’re here today because Facebook has shown us once again that it is incapable of holding itself accountable,” Committee Chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in his opening remarks. “This month, a whistleblower approached my office to provide information about Facebook and Instagram. Thanks to documents provided by that whistleblower, as well as extensive public reporting by The Wall Street Journal and others, we now have deep insight into Facebook’s relentless campaign to recruit and exploit young users.”

“We now know that Facebook routinely puts profits ahead of kids’ online safety,” he added. “We know it chooses the growth of its products over the well-being of our children, and we now know that it is in defensively delinquent in acting to protect them.”

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, was grilled for over three hours by lawmakers. She denied all of it.

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MORE FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Around that time, researchers inside Instagram, which is owned by Facebook Inc., were studying this kind of experience and asking whether it was part of a broader phenomenon. Their findings confirmed some serious problems.

“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.”

For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.

“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…


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