Facebook bought Instagram in 2012. Sarah Tew / CNET
Facebook internal search on Instagram has raised serious concerns about the photo-sharing app's impact on adolescent mental health, prompting U.S. lawmakers to lobby the world's largest social network for more answers.
"As the internet - and social media in particular - becomes more and more entrenched in the lives of children and adolescents, we are deeply concerned that your business continues to fail in his obligation to protect young users, "according to a letter sent Wednesday to Facebook for three Democrats. In the letter, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts and Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida urge the company to "cease all efforts " to launch a version of Instagram "for those under 13 years .
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The in-depth review comes after The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Facebook researchers have conducted studies over the past three years and have found that Instagram is "harmful to a significant percentage " of young users, especially teenage girls. Research presented in 2019 reportedly found that Instagram makes the body image problem worse for one in three teenage girls. The teens also said Instagram increased rates of anxiety and depression, the Journal reported, citing internal company documents.
On Tuesday, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said stick to your research to understand the youth experiences with the app.
"The question that worries many people is whether social media is good or bad for people," wrote Karina Newton, public policy manager at Instagram, in a blog post. "Research on this is mixed; it can be both. At Instagram, we look at the benefits and risks of what welet's do. "
Newton added that Instagram has done " extensive work around bullying, suicide, self-harm and eating disorders "to make the app a safe place for everyone. The company is also focusing on tackling negative social comparisons and body image, Newton said, and is developing ways to jump if we see people s 'dwell on certain types of content. "
For years people have called apps like Instagram for to harm people's mental well-being . Instagram has been criticized by users, advocacy groups and lawmakers for hosting " harmful content and promoting anxiety and depression, especially with young audiences .
The Journal report also drew criticism from Facebook from lawmakers on Tuesday. Sens. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, and Richard Blumenthal , "a Democrat from Connecticut, a said they would launch a survey of Facebook's knowledge of Instagram's reported negative impact on teens.
"It is clear that Facebook is incapable of holding itself accountable," the senators said in a statement. significant harm. "
Blackburn and Blumenthal said they were in contact with the Facebook whistleblower and were " looking for other documents and pursuing testimony . "
The Instagr am search is part of a " int communications findernes "reviewed by the Journal that. On Monday, the Journal reported that Facebook "has exempted millions of high profile users , including celebrities and politicians, from some or all of its community standards in part of a program called XCheck. A Facebook spokesperson said the program aimed to give certain Facebook pages a "second layer of scrutiny to make sure we applied our policies correctly.
Wednesday , the "Journal reported that Facebook researchers found the company 's efforts to stimulate more "meaningful social interactions " between family and friends rewarded with content that fueled outrage and misinformation. The social network subsequently rolled out changes pTo solve this problem, in particular by reducing the amount of political "content that users see on his newsfeed.