Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Facebook whistleblower expected to testify to Instagram’s impact on children

A Facebook whistleblower is expected to testify about the company’s knowledge of Instagram’s allegedly harmful effects on children at a Senate hearing on October 5.

The hearing is based on a September 14 exposé of The Wall Street Journal which claimed that Instagram has a “toxic” effect on young girls’ self-esteem and that Facebook was aware of the issue but “these issues and dramas”. Made minimal effort to address them publicly downstairs.”

“The hearing will provide an opportunity for a Facebook whistleblower to discuss their perspective and experience with the subcommittee, including how to update children’s privacy rules and other laws to protect online consumers,” said the hearing, chaired by Sen. Richard Blumenthal. A statement making the announcement reads. (D-Con.) of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security.

Internal documents reveal how Facebook was acutely aware of the effects of its platform on adolescents and their mental well-being.

Submissions by researchers inside Instagram, reviewed by the WSJ, revealed that the photo-sharing app has had some impact on its younger users, especially girls.

“We find body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls,” said a 2019 presentation slide of a research summary on young girls with similar issues.

76 percent of American teens use Instagram, while nearly 22 million teens in the country log into the platform on a daily basis. “Teenagers blame Instagram for increasing rates of anxiety and depression,” said another slide.

Presentations conducted over 18 months concluded that the main features of Instagram had the most damaging effect on teens. It included, “The tendency to share only the best moments, the pressure to look perfect, and an addictive product can lead teens to eating disorders, an unhealthy sense of their own bodies, and depression.”

Social comparison, where people compare themselves with others on criteria of wealth, physical beauty and success, is “worse on Instagram” than TikTok and Snapchat, where users compete for performance and share fun face filters. Instagram, on the other hand, mostly focuses on body and lifestyle.

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In August, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was requested by Senators Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn (R-Ten) to release the company’s research into the platform’s effects on youth mental health. In response, the company sent back a six-page letter without any of its own studies and pointing out their apparent ignorance of the effects.

According to the WSJ, Blumenthal said in an email, “Facebook’s answers were so obvious — even failing to answer all of our questions — that they really raised the question of what Facebook might be hiding.” “Looks like Facebook is taking a page out of Big Tobacco’s textbook — publicly targeting teens with potentially dangerous products while masquerading as science.”

Late on Wednesday, Facebook released its own document opposing the findings, and in a move projected to be ready for hearing.

“Contrary to how the objectives are framed, this research was designed to understand user perceptions, not measures of prevalence, statistical inferences for the correlation between Instagram and mental health, or the relationship between Instagram and health/wellness.” In between reason to evaluate the claims, The Washington Post reported that the company wrote in one of its annotations.

Facebook’s global security chief Antigone Davis testified before Congress on Thursday. Lawmakers questioned the executive about what the company plans to do with the research.

The hearing comes a day after Instagram halted its plans to release an app targeted at children.

The identity of the whistleblower was not made public at the time of writing this news.

Facebook and Instagram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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