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Facebook recognizes how damaging its photo-sharing app, Instagram, can be to teen girls’ self-esteem, according to company documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

Researchers tapped by the tech giant to examine the app’s impact on young users’ mental health over the past three years found that 32% of teen girls who “felt bad about their bodies” said that Instagram had taken the issue with them. made worse. WSJ.


Instagram’s head of public policy, Karina Newton, said in a blog post on Tuesday that it stood by the research, which demonstrates the company’s “commitment to understanding the complex and difficult issues that young people can struggle with, and to all tasks.” Let’s inform” Instagram does “Help those facing these issues.”

“We are proud that our app can give a voice to those who are marginalized, that it can help friends and families stay connected from all corners of the world, that it can inspire social change, but we We also know that it can be a place where people have negative experiences, as the Journal reported today,” Newton said in the blog post.

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Newton said its “job is to make sure people feel good about their experience on Instagram…”

A 2019 slide on a presentation by Instagram researchers detailing their findings said that the app “makes body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls.”

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According to the WSJ, “teenagers blame Instagram for increasing rates of anxiety and depression.” “This response was unpublished and consistent across all groups.”

Some users also attributed the time spent on the app to experiencing suicidal thoughts; The slide presentation, reviewed by the WSJ, stated that 6% of US users indicated a correlation between the two, compared to 13% of UK users.

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According to a Pew Research survey published in April, four in 10 Americans use Instagram, compared to seven in 10 Americans who use Facebook. The majority (81%) of young adult users aged 18 to 29 said they use Instagram.

The WSJ, citing documents from Facebook, reported that more than 40% of the app’s users are under the age of 22, and that nearly 22 million teens use the app every day. A 2018 Pew Research survey that Newton cited in his Tuesday blog post found that 81% of teens aged 13 to 17 found that social media in general makes them feel more connected while 26% said it Makes them feel insecure.

Four in 10 teens said they only post on social media to make other people look good, and more than half of teens surveyed said they “unfriended” or “unfollowed” other users because of bullying Is.

Facebook notes that Instagram can also have a positive effect on health. There has been a shift in recent years toward posts about body positivity and realistic physical and mental health expectations as users attempt to change the social media culture, but post seemingly perfect life and body images on the app. Influential people are popular.

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“very [users] Said Instagram makes things better or has no effect, but some, especially those who were already feeling down, said Instagram could make things worse. In the world of research, this is not surprising or unexpected,” Newton wrote in the blog post. “As issues like negative social comparison and anxiety exist in the world, they will continue to exist on social media as well.”

Instagram’s head of public policy said the company is taking steps to tackle issues such as bullying, self-harm, suicide and eating disorders as they pertain to users. The app has built in features so that users can “protect themselves from bullying” and gives users the option to hide the number of “likes” on their posts.

Newton wrote that the app is “exploring ways to prompt users viewing content related to eating disorders” to “look at a variety of topics” if they are repeatedly viewing this type of content.

“We are cautiously optimistic that these nudges will help lead people to content that inspires and uplifts them, and to a large extent, will shift the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on That’s how people look,” she said.