Per an extensive report on the internal documents by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is aware of how harmful its photo-sharing platform can really be to younger users. The documents come as part of studies the company has conducted over the past years examining how Instagram can affects its younger users. In particular, it was noted that IG had the most potential for harm to teenage girls.
"Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse," one such document reads, noting that around 14 percent of boys in the United States said Instagram impacted them negatively. It's also noted that while the majority of teenage Instagram users aren't harmed by the platform, many of the key features were attributed as key sources of harm. "Aspects of Instagram exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm," reads the research.
The Explore page was cited as an issue for some users, with the app pushing harmful content. "We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls," the documents reportedly claim. Teens also told researchers at Facebook that they felt “addicted” to the platform, and over 40 percent of UK and US users said they felt “unattractive” after they started to use Instagram. "Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression," the research added. "This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups."
Instagram’s head of public policy, Karina Newton, has since responded to the report and said Facebook is researching how to deal with the issues. “We’re exploring ways to prompt them to look at different topics if they’re repeatedly looking at this type of content,” Newton wrote. “We’re cautiously optimistic that these nudges will help point people towards content that inspires and uplifts them, and to a larger extent, will shift the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on how people look.”