What fresh hell is it this time??
Look, we already knew Facebook had become the internet’s go-to repository for some of the most vile racism, insidious conspiracy theories, and unwanted attention from ex-boyfriends.
And over the past few years, we’ve learned they’re so much worse. Hell, they very nearly destroyed our democracy — and still might!
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But a new bombshell report shows more than greed-fueled apathy, it proves Mark Zuckerberg‘s company is just as misogynistic as its humble beginnings as in was its humble beginnings as Facemash, a site where Harvard students could rate the hotness of their classmates.
For years critics of Instagram — the cooler, sexier, but importantly still Facebook-owned photo app — decried the site for its dangers to the psyche of users, especially young girls. The photo-centric site naturally attracted (and even created) models, quickly filling up with selfies showing off bikini bodies, plumped lips, and perfectly contoured faces.
The feeds judged to be the hottest naturally got the most traction until it’s just about all you see as a newcomer to the site. Just hundreds of photos of impossibly perfect women — “impossible” being the key word there. The pics are perfectly posed, sometimes taking hundreds of attempts to get right. Often they’re filtered, photoshopped, or otherwise altered. Sometimes it’s the young women themselves who have sculpted their own bodies with more than just hours of intense exercise.
All of that leads to an environment in which young girls are faced all day long with photos which create a wholly unrealistic expectation for how they should look. It’s believed to be intensely damaging to their mental health.
And you know what? It’s true. The critics are dead on. And Facebook knows it.
The Wall Street Journal obtained internal data which shows the company has been researching IG’s impact on its users. And the results are awful. Which may be why the company chose to sweep them under the rug and never show them to anyone, much less use them to create a better, safer site.
Among the findings of one study, per the outlet, found that 32% of teenage girls who said they felt bad about their bodies felt worse because they used Instagram.
That same study looked at more severe impacts the site was having on mental health. Per the data, 13% of British teens and 6% of American teens who experienced suicidal thoughts linked them directly to their experience with Instagram.
Another internal study found that 40% of teens who used IG felt “unattractive” after using the app, and 25% felt they were “not good enough.”
It isn’t just girls, obviously. Plenty of hot guys post on IG every day, too. And they have an impact on younger users, too. A 2019 study showed 14% of American boys said the app negatively affected their self-image. And that’s just the ones who realized it.
Some of the most recent data, from 2020, showed that the use of Instagram led directly to eating disorders, body issues, and depression.
They even found they were doing far more damage than their competitors like TikTok and Snapchat, which don’t focus as much on physical fitness and appearance as they do on personality.
According to WSJ, this data has made it all the way to the top and been personally reviewed by Zuckerberg and FB’s other execs.
What did the company do with all this info? Did they improve their model? Share the data with outside researchers or mental health professionals? With government bodies that exist to help young people going through mental health issues?
They hid it all away. Because they were making tons of money.
22 million teens in the US use Instagram every single day, over four times as much as Facebook. Over 40% of IG’s users are under 23 years old. Teens are their golden goose — and they don’t care whether they’re slowly killing them or not.
What they are doing for their next step? Aiming even lower, with plans to create an Instagram for kids.
[Image via Kylie Jenner/Demi Rose/Emily Ratajkowski/Addison Rae/Bella Hadid/Instagram.]