Facebook publishes slides on how Instagram affects teen mental health


Facebook has two slide decks detailing its analysis into how Instagram affects teenagers’ mental health. The slides have been closely cited by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month in a narrative that reported the company’s personal researchers had discovered that “Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage” of teenagers, notably teenage ladies.

Instagram has tried to rebut these claims, saying its analysis was mischaracterized. But the following backlash has already compelled the company to “pause” its work on an Instagram Kids app. It additionally raised stress on Facebook to launch the underlying analysis, which the company in the end agreed to do. Facebook’s head of security is scheduled to testify at a Senate Commerce Committee listening to on baby security on Instagram Thursday.

Many of the slides embody prolonged annotations with extra “context” on the extra controversial facets of the analysis. For instance, a slide titled “The Perfect image, feeling attractive, and having enough money are most likely to have started on Instagram,” states that the knowledge within the slide “should not be used as estimates of average experience among teen users.”

Other annotations, like one on a slide, titled “One in five teens say that Instagram makes them feel worse about themselves, with UK girls the most negative,” try and downplay the findings. “This research was not intended to (and does not) evaluate causal claims between Instagram and health or well-being.” (That line is repeated on a number of different slides.)


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