According to a leak from the tech firm, Facebook has kept Instagram’s internal teen research secret for two years. The Facebook-owned platform was studying the effects of their product on its younger users’ states of mind. Their research has repeatedly found it is harmful for a large proportion, and particularly teenage girls.

Instagram’s internal teen research is hugely criticized by lawmakers, regulators, and parents

Internal Facebook documents suggest that the company is aware of the risks it presents to teenagers but has been reticent to make changes. Among the most concerning findings was; the users who reported suicidal thoughts: 13% in the UK and 6% in the US traced them back to Instagram. Another study found that more than 40% of Instagram users who reported feeling “unattractive” said the feeling began on the app. Also, about a quarter of the teenagers who reported feeling “not good enough” said it started on Instagram.

Lawmakers, regulators, parents, child safety groups, and 44 state attorneys general have called on Facebook to abandon the Instagram Youth project citing privacy and safety issues of users below 13. Instagram Youth project is for children under the age of 13 who are already using Instagram regardless of the app’s age limit. Instagram Youth will serve as an Instagram version specifically for them and with parental controls.

Read more: Facebook is creating a version of Instagram for kids under 13

Facebook to face Senate probe

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn said they would launch a probe into Facebook’s internal teen research and how its services affect young users. The Democratic chairman and ranking Republican on the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security Subcommittee said; “ We will use every resource at our disposal to investigate what Facebook knew and when they knew it—including seeking further documents and pursuing witness testimony.”

Instagram’s internal teen research concluded that they are making body image issues worse for one in three teen girls. Teens surveyed by the company also blamed Instagram for increases in anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, the company is developing features to enable users to control what they see and promote different topics when a user is documented repeatedly looking at body-related content.

Source: Daily Mail


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