Sep 26, 2021 - Technology

Facebook contests coverage of Instagram teens research

Facebook logo in a minefield, like the PC game minesweeper

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook released more information on Sunday about its research into Instagram's impact on teen girls and said the full picture shows the photo-sharing service has a largely positive effect.

Driving the news: The move comes after the Wall Street Journal published a series based on leaked reports showing evidence of harms caused by the Facebook platform.

What's next: Facebook's global head of safety Antigone Davis will testify at a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing Thursday.

  • A Facebook spokesperson told Axios the company will release the full presentation deck to the committee and is "evaluating how we can release it to the public at some point."

Details: Facebook's post argues that the WSJ report misrepresented the Instagram research by highlighting one negative finding about girls' body images and omitting more positive findings on 11 other "well-being issues."

  • Even in that one area, Facebook said, the Journal misread a slide headlined "We make body image worse for 1 in 3 teenage girls."
  • "While the headline in the internal slide does not explicitly state it, the research shows one in three of those teenage girls who told us they were experiencing body image issues reported that using Instagram made them feel worse — not one in three of all teenage girls," Facebook said.

Between the lines: The company is arguing that the WSJ coverage cherry-picked a damning tidbit while omitting rosier results.

  • Meanwhile, Facebook critics argue that the company's failure to release full accountings of its internal research lets it cherry-pick only favorable findings.

Go deeper: Facebook's social balance is in the red

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