Facebook may be showing an iota of morality in its alleged plans to cease development for its “Instagram for kids” project. However, the plans come after the company has received substantial backlash for the project and the public learned the plans were moving forward even after the company’s own research data showed Instagram is highly toxic for teenage girls.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri publicized the decision in an interview on the Today show Monday morning. Mosseri said, “I still firmly believe that it’s a good thing to build a version of Instagram that’s safe for tweens, but we want to take the time to talk to parents and researchers and safety experts and get to more consensus about how to move forward.”
The question remains whether or not Facebook would be taking the action if it weren’t for lawmakers calling on its CEO Mark Zuckerberg to abandon the plans earlier this month. Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee announced plans to investigate Facebook with the help of a whistleblower.
In a signed letter from Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), and Representatives Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Lori Trahan (D-MA), the lawmakers stated, “Children and teens are uniquely vulnerable populations online, and these findings paint a clear and devastating picture of Instagram as an app that poses significant threats to young people’s wellbeing.”
The Wall Street Journal help to instigate pressure against the company after it’s thorough reporting on internal Facebook documents that revealed Apple threatened to remove Facebook from its App Store in 2019 after a BBC News report detailed how the App was used for human trafficking.
The Wall Street Journal also released a damning report titled, “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show.” The article explained Facebook was aware that Instagram has a negative effect on young women’s body images. The Wall Street Journal 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.”
Senate Commerce Committee members said Facebook has proven itself to be incapable of holding itself accountable, accusing them of a “growth-at-all-costs” tactic which has placed profit above “the health and lives of children and teens.”