Facebook denies internal research shows Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teenage girls

Facebook is continuing to respond to a series of stories published by the Wall Street Journal which suggested the company knew its services had a negative impact on the well-being of teenage girls.

Slides produced by an internal research team reported by the newspaper suggested 32% of teenage girls said that Instagram made them feel worse about body image issues.

Last week, Facebook denied that it “conducts research and then systematically and wilfully ignores it if the findings are inconvenient for the company” as it paraphrased the reports.

Image: The slide’s headline said Instagram made body image issues worse for one in three teen girls

In a new response, ahead of Facebook’s global head of safety appearing before a US Senate committee, the company said that contrary to the newspaper’s report, internal research found teenage girls said that the platform made them feel better rather than worse on 11 out of 12 well-being issues.

“It is simply not accurate that this research demonstrates Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teen girls,” the company’s head of research, Pratiti Raychoudhury, wrote.

“The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced,” Ms Raychoudhury added.

The other areas of the slide referenced by the newspaper including “loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues” were made better by Instagram, the company’s research said.

The company stressed: “Body image was the only area where teen girls who reported struggling with the issue said Instagram made it worse as compared to the other 11 areas.

“But here also, the majority of teenage girls who experienced body image issues still reported Instagram either made it better or had no impact.”

Facebook also said that the findings were based on the input from only 40 teens and were designed for an internal audience that understood the limitations of the research, and that the research was then used to inform product changes to make the platform better.