Facebook knew that young girls were under pressure to look perfect on Instagram, often harming themselves in the process and even thinking of suicide. But the social media giant did nothing to address these issues, a new report has revealed.
Facebook was aware back in 2019 that as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram was making "body image issue worse for one in three teen girls," according to the documents accessed by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Depression linked to Instagram
WSJ has made many damning revelations about how Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012, preferred to look the other way when it was reported in its own internal documents that 13 percent of British teens and 6 percent of American teens had wanted to take their own lives and traced the source of their depression to Instagram.
Among the revelations in the documents, which are part of a trove of internal Facebook communications reviewed by the WSJ, are: "Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression... This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups... Aspects of Instagram exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm."
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While Facebook claims to provide an equal platform to its over three billion users, in reality the social media company created a system to exempt 'high-profile' users such as celebrities, journalists and politicians from some or all of its content rules.
Five presentations were made on the issue of mental health among Instagram's users after surveying thousands of people, observing focus groups and going by diary studies. The studies found that the problems of mental health among the younger audience of Instagram were not generic in nature, they were specific to the photo-sharing app.
In one of the slides, Facebook's own research team states that the issue of "social comparison" was worse on Instagram than it was on other platforms.
Forty percent of Instagram’s audience is in the age group of 22 years or younger, according to WSJ. Around 22 million teens from the US alone logged on to Instagram each day, which was significantly higher than the number of people logging on to Facebook.
The photo-sharing app, for which Facebook paid $1 billion, has expanded the company’s footprint among the younger audience, who it turns out prefer Instagram to Facebook.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)