According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Facebook announced the discovery of various harms to a number of teenagers as a result of using the Instagram application.
The newspaper cited studies conducted by Facebook itself over the past three years that examined how the popular photo and video app has affected its young user base, with teenage girls being significantly harmed. The study data said that among teenagers who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users attributed the problem to Instagram. And 32% of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, the app made them feel worse, the researchers said. And 14% of boys in the US said Instagram made them feel bad about themselves.
While Facebook has concluded that a large percentage of teens are not negatively affected by the app, the features that the social media company has identified as the most harmful are part of its main tools.
According to the report, the researchers warned that Instagram's Explore page, which offers curated posts to users from a wide variety of accounts, could drive users to potentially harmful content. Young users are the key to the success of the popular app, as more than 40% of Instagram users are 22 years old or younger, according to materials seen by the newspaper.
In a company blog post, Instagram's head of public policy, Karina Newton, responded to the report and said the company was looking at ways to lure users away from focusing on certain types of posts.
She said, we are exploring ways to get them to look at different topics if they frequently search this type of content. We are cautiously optimistic that these alerts will help direct people towards content that inspires and promotes them and, to a greater extent, will change the part of the app culture that focuses on how people look.