Adam Mosseri, chief executive of Instagram, dismisses allegations about the platform's effects on teens.  Photo: AFP

A internal investigation performed by Facebook recently concluded that its popular image and video platform Instagram, owned by the company led by Mark Zuckerberg, it is toxic to its users, especially for teenage girls.

“32% of girls say that when they feel bad about their body, Instagram makes them feel worse”, Details the internal report called ‘The files of Facebook’, to which the The Wall Street Journal.

“Comparisons with what they see on Instagram can alter the way young women perceive and describe themselves themselves ”, concludes the document.

According to the leaks, Facebook studied for years how Instagram affects its users for three years. In 2019, an internal presentation revealed that the social network “worsens mental problems about self-image in one in three adolescents.”

Another of the slides cited in the research indicates that “among the teenagers with suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users pointed out that the origin of their suicidal desire was Instagram ”.

The information published by the US media consists of internal company messages, slides and documents, which show that their top executives were aware of this damage and chose to ignore it.

Facebook and Instagram defend themselves

The conclusions of the investigations carried out by the social network collide with public speeches of those responsible for both social networks. Both the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and Adam Mosseri, chief executive of Instagram, went out to systematically minimize the hazard of the platform for the self-esteem of its users.

“The research we’ve seen shows that using social apps to connect with other people can be beneficial and positive for mental health”, Defended the CEO of Facebook during a parliamentary hearing in March 2021.

Adam Mosseri, chief executive of Instagram, dismisses allegations about the platform’s effects on teens. Photo: AFP

This is not the first study conducted by Facebook. In 2019, other research conducted among American and British teenagers revealed that more than 40% of young women who looked unattractive began to feel that way on Instagram. However, despite having this feeling, teenage girls do not stop using the network.

“They feel addicted and they know that what they see is bad for their mental health but feel unable to stop”Explained one of the researchers in one of the documents.

Teenage boys are also affected, although not as much as girls. According to the report, 14% of them say that Instagram makes them feel worse.

According to research, 32% of girls accuse Instagram of making them feel worse about their body.  Photo: Shutterstock

According to research, 32% of girls accuse Instagram of making them feel worse about their body. Photo: Shutterstock

The legal age of access to Instagram is 13 years. However, a few months ago, it was leaked that the platform was working on a application aimed at children under 13 years, a project that at the moment is paralyzed because the United States Attorney’s Office understands that a specific application for children would be even more damaging to your mental health.

In any case, Facebook said publicly in recent months that its intention is to strengthen control mechanisms to detect users who lie about their age. Last week it was leaked that the company is working on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to facilitate this work.

The new project, filtered through an internal statement, would be proposed for create an environment for children, with the aim of “guaranteeing your privacy and security”. In this context, Adam Mosseri, speaking to BuzzFeed, said that the issue of minors is a problem, especially when verifying their age.

In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion. As of today, more than 40% of the platform’s users are 22 years old or younger.

SL

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