(Bloomberg)—Facebook Inc. said body image was the only area out of 12 categories in its research into well-being issues where more teenage girls felt Instagram made things worse instead of better.
The social media giant was rebutting a Wall Street Journal report last week that called the photo-sharing app “toxic” for the group, citing a March 2020 Facebook slide presentation that showed the social media giant’s Instagram unit made body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls. It also said the same presentation showed 13% of British teens and 6% of those in the U.S. traced suicidal thoughts to the app.
Facebook said that while those dealing with body image issues felt Instagram made it worse for them, users coping with loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues said the app helped in their difficult moments.
“It is simply not accurate that this research demonstrates Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teen girls,” Pratiti Raychoudhury, Facebook’s head of research, said in a post. “The majority of teenage girls who experienced body image issues still reported Instagram either made it better or had no impact.”
Facebook said that research had its limitations because it relied on input from just 40 teenagers as it sought the most negative perceptions of Instagram. “We invest in this research to proactively identify where we can improve—which is why the worst possible results are highlighted in the internal slides,” it added.
Raychoudhury said the company has taken steps to improve its apps, including adding resources to help those dealing with body image issues. It also removed graphic content relating to suicide and added a feature to protect users from bullying.
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