A previously hidden internal research conducted by Facebook found that Instagram makes body image issues worse for one in three teen girls. The Wall Street Journal recently disclosed the in-depth study after gaining access to the research Facebook was unwilling to share with the public. As one slide from the internal presentation put it: “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” with the figure referring to teenagers who already reported body image issues of some type.

Here are some of the highlights of the report:

  • In one study, Facebook found that over 40% of teen Instagram users in the US and the UK who reported feeling “unattractive” said the feelings started when they started using Instagram.
  • Teens told Facebook’s researchers that they felt “addicted” to Instagram and wanted to check it less often but didn’t have the self-control to limit their usage.
  • The internal research presented in 2019 also stated that “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression” and that “this reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
  • The research also found that among teens who said they had suicidal thoughts, 13% of UK users and 6% of US users noted that these impulses could be tracked back to the app.
  • Lastly, the research found that Instagram was engineered towards greater “social comparison” than rival apps like TikTok and Snapchat. TikTok focuses more on performance and Snapchat on jokey filters that “keep the focus on the face.” Instagram, by comparison, spotlights users’ bodies and lifestyles more often.

The research was reviewed by Facebook’s top executives.

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