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Facebook says Instagram makes teens feel good about themselves

Facebook released another defense of its subsidiary Instagram Sunday, insisting that the popular photo-sharing app makes teen girls feel better about themselves.

The company’s rebuttal comes after a damning investigation found that Facebook knew of the platform’s toxic impact on young people — and failed to fix it.

In a blog post published Sunday evening, Facebook’s vice president of research Pratiti Raychoudhury responded to the Wall Street Journal investigation that found, among other things, that Facebook’s internal research had shown the app makes “body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”

Raychoudhury did not confront many of the Journal’s assertions, including that teens said they feel addicted to Instagram.

Instead, she argued that the Journal’s characterization of Facebook’s findings on how Instagram affects body image issues in teen girls was without context and “simply not accurate” — even though the report quoted directly from a leaked internal document.

Facebook’s vice president of research Pratiti Raychoudhury says that one in three girls experience an exacerbated case of body image issues on social media. LinkedIn

Facebook Global Head of Safety Director Antigone Davis is scheduled to appear before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on September 30, 2021.Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

“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,” Raychoudhury wrote.

The internal report cited by the Journal covered 12 areas, including loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues, Raychoudhury said, adding that, “body image was the only area where teen girls who reported struggling with the issue said Instagram made it worse.”

Even when it comes to body image, she claimed, “the majority of teenage girls who experienced body image issues still reported Instagram either made it better or had no impact.”

Raychoudhury argued that the initial report was not accurate and the characterization of Facebook’s findings on how Instagram affects body image issues in teen girls was without context.Alamy Stock Photo

Raychoudhury also said that according to research, teens who still suffered from body image issues still reported the Instagram made them feel better about it. Alamy Stock Photo

Raychoudhury went on to criticize Facebook’s own internal research, saying that some of it was based “on input from only 40 teens.”

Nonetheless, Facebook has used the internal research reported by the Journal to “inform changes to our apps and provide resources for the people who use them,” Raychoudhury noted.

The online rebuttal comes days before Facebook’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, is expected to appear before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Thursday. She’s expected to face questions about the findings of the Journal investigation as well as about Facebook’s plans for an “Instagram for kids.”

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