“The social comparison is worse on Instagram.” The phrase could seem to be taken from one of many studies by specialists and mental health analysts who have addressed how social networks and, specifically, Instagram affect adolescents. His studies have repeatedly pointed out, in fact, that the Facebook-owned photo network has a negative effect on mental health. However, the statement is not from either of them. It is the conclusion of a study that Facebook has done on mental health, adolescents and Facebook.
The study was internal and did not leave the company. Up to now. The leak of a group of internal Facebook documents to The Wall Street Journal is serving to wash the company’s dirty laundry outside the home. The Journal is gradually publishing its discoveries, which are working – at least the ones they have already released – as a kind of confirmation from within of all the bad that was pointed out from the outside. The economic newspaper has already revealed that Facebook has a double standard , with an elite of users who are left out of content moderation.
Now, he has revealed that Facebook is fully aware of the problems of Instagram and its effects on the mental health of adolescents, but that it is not doing anything seriously to solve it. In fact, what can be concluded by reading what the Journal has managed to discover is that Facebook knows it, does not solve it and, very damaging to its reputation, has tried to minimize it in public.
What the tests say Research shows that Instagram increases the insecurity of teenagers, especially teenagers. One of the internal studies they did pointed out that 32% of teenage girls who already felt bad about their bodies felt worse after going through Instagram. Studies suggest that adolescents link Instagram with problems of depression and anxiety or that it generates pressure in competition for popularity. But the elements that impact the behaviors that make this happen are the key functionalities of Instagram itself, such as the like counters or the explore tab.
Even when Facebook decided to try tweaking, as it did by removing the likes counter, the Journal’s analysis makes it clear that it was more cosmetic than something with real echo. It served the company to look good for the gallery.
To all this we must add that Instagram is key in Facebook’s corporate strategy: it is the way that allows them to connect with adolescents who have lost their main brand, Facebook itself. When they bought Instagram it was because they saw that they were losing teenagers, says the Journal , and since then they have been adding functionalities so that they do not go to their competitors. Therefore, it is almost like a whiting that bites its tail. They need to continue to keep the adolescent audience – hooked on those negative functionalities – and changing things could put that in jeopardy.