Ahead of a Senate hearing on the effect of social media on the mental health of younger users scheduled for next Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal has published in full the “Facebook Files,” internal documents showing just how much the company knew about its platforms’ impact. Breitbart News has reported extensively on the “Facebook Files” series from the Wall Street Journal which made a number of damning claims about the tech giant based on a series of internal company documents. Sad teen with a phone in her bedroom – stock photo (Getty Images) Mark Zuckerberg Smiles during testimony (Pool/Getty) According to the Wall Street Journal, the internal documents reveal that the tech giant Apple threatened to remove Facebook from its App Store in 2019 following a report from BBC News that detailed the human trafficking taking place across the social media platform.
The Wall Street Journal also claimed that Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm saw a major change in 2018 that appeared to promote outrageous and negative content on the platform. When informed of this, top executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg were allegedly hesitant to solve the issue. In another report titled “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show,” the Wall Street Journal claims that Facebook is aware that its photo-sharing app Instagram can have a negative effect on the body image of young women.
The WSJ wrote: “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.” ... “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues. “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.” Facebook has pushed back on claims made by the WSJ that the company was aware of the harm that Instagram could have on teenagers yet “has made minimal efforts to address these issues and plays them down in public.” Pratiti Raychoudhury, Vice President, Head of Research at Facebook, stated in a post to Facebook’s Newsroom that the WSJ’s claims are “not accurate” and that the WSJ’s interpretation of the data it had from Facebook was incorrect. However, Facebook failed to provide any further information to dispute the WSJ’s interpretation of the documents. Now, the Wall Street Journal has done exactly that, releasing the internal Facebook files for all to see.
The WSJ writes: Facebook has said the Journal’s Instagram article mischaracterized its findings. In a blog post published 12 days after the article, the company’s head of research said many teens “feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced.” In the documents that follow, the names of Facebook employees whose names appear in the documents have been redacted, excepting only the most senior. Every named person has been contacted and given an opportunity to comment. Third-party images that aren’t directly relevant to the research have been pixelated. And some title pages were modified to remove extraneous material. Some of the documents released by the WSJ include: “Teen Girls Body Image and Social Comparison on Instagram—An Exploratory Study in the US”, “Teen Mental Health Deep Dive,” and “Mental Health Findings.” Read the full documents at the Wall Street Journal here. Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
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