Facebook has published two slide decks detailing its research into how Instagram affects teens’ mental health. The slides were heavily cited by The Journal earlier this month in a story that reported the company’s researchers had found that “Instagram is harmful to a sizable percentage” of teens, particularly teenage girls.” Instagram has attempted to refute those claims, saying that its research was mischaracterized. But the ensuing backlash has already forced the company to “pause” its work on an Instagram Kids app. It the underlying research, which the company ultimately agreed to do. of safety is scheduled to testify at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on child safety on Instagram Thursday.
The slidesinto how Facebook researches thorny issues affecting its services. Many include lengthy annotations with additional “context” on the more controversial aspects of the research. For example, a slide titled “The Perfect image, feeling attractive, and having enough money are most likely to have started on Instagram” states that the information in the drop “should not be used as estimates of average experience among teen users.”
Other annotations, like one on a slide titled “One in five evaluate causal claims between Instagram and health or well-being.” (That line is repeated on several other slides.) The research also offers insight into what type of . One slide states meme accounts are among the content that “make teens feel the best.”that Instagram makes them feel worse about themselves, with UK girls the most negative,” attempt to downplay the findings. “This research was not intended to (and does not)
The research release is unlikely to quiet Facebook’s critics, particularly those in Congress who were deeply suspicious of the company’s attempts to woo children into its services. Some Democratic lawmakers have called on the company to abandon its work on entirely. For Facebook, younger users are not just one of the most important demographics but one where the consistently lost out to rivals like Snapchat and Instagram.
Other research conducted by Facebook and published by TheJournal this week found that Facebook has struggled to keep tweens and teens engaged. In one slide, which has not been made public by Facebook, the company discussed whether young children’s playdates could be used “as a growth lever for Messenger Kids.” Facebook later said it “was an insensitive way to pose a serious question and didn’t reflect our approach to building the app.”
Update 9/29/21 11:32 PM ET: The Wall Street Journal has published internal documents, including ones Facebook didn’t include in its report about how Instagram affects teens’ mental health. Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, selects all products Engadget recommends. Some of our stories include affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.