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Just how dangerous are Instagram and Facebook to underage users?

Oct 27, 2021


Internal research first publicized by The Wall Street Journal revealed Instagram and parent company Facebook knew how damaging its platforms were to the mental health of children and teenagers. One in three teenagers said Instagram usage caused body image issues. Six percent of American teens who reported suicidal thoughts traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram.

Subsequent Congressional hearings have spotlighted perspectives from current and former Facebook employees.

“The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people,” former Facebook employee Frances Haugen said.

Facebook executives have testified before Congress and published blog posts and annotated research suggesting reports have mischaracterized the company’s internal research. But many lawmakers and parents aren’t buying those defenses.

“This is a drug, and it’s not only a drug, it’s an addictive drug,” author, influencer and mother Jordan Reid said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, went so far as to call Facebook “morally bankrupt”.

“It’s just not happening,” said Reid, when asked if she’d allow her two young children on social media. “And if she wants to fight me on it, I have documents that I can point her to, so it’s not just me being a pain, it’s like, no, these are the facts, and that’s why you’re not doing this.”