Facebook and Instagram Mental Health Investigation

05.31.2022

Girard Sharp is investigating reports that the social-media apps Instagram and Facebook are harming the mental health of millions of minor users—particularly teenage girls—and that the apps’ corporate parent Meta Platforms knows of these detrimental effects yet has failed to take appropriate action in response.

Does your child regularly use Instagram or Facebook? Has being on the app harmed their mental health? Talk to an attorney about your rights—you may be entitled to relief.

Call us toll-free at (866) 981-4800 or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

Details on the Instagram and Facebook Investigation

Meta Platforms Inc. (formerly Facebook, Inc.) owns both Facebook and Instagram. According to a September 2021 report in the Wall Street Journal, internal Meta research shows that Instagram can be especially toxic for teenage girls who spend time on the platform. A former product manager at Facebook blew the whistle, revealing these troubling reports. The New York Times reported that the whistleblower worked “for nearly two years on the civic misinformation team at the social network[…] [and] used the documents she amassed to expose how much Facebook knew about the harms that it was causing” to app users.

Meta’s research into how Instagram affects users showed that the app can harm their mental health. For instance, Meta concluded that for 32% of teenage girls who felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel even worse. An internal presentation reportedly also found that, among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of UK users and 6% of U.S. users traced those thoughts to Instagram. Despite its awareness of these and other harmful effects, Meta sought to minimize the mental-health problems associated with use of Instagram and Facebook.

Researchers at Meta reportedly presented findings about Instagram’s negative effects to top executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who nevertheless continued to defend the app. At a May 2021 press conference, for example, Zuckerberg said that using social-media apps to connect with others can have “positive mental health benefits.”

Meta did not disclose its internal findings demonstrating the serious risks of user harm from Instagram and Facebook. Instead, among other things, Meta’s executives pointed to data from the Oxford Internet Institute suggesting only a minimal association between social-media use and mental-health problems. The lead researcher on the Oxford studies, however, commented that Meta “needs to be more open about their research.” In addition, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, told the Journal that Instagram’s impact on users may be “quite huge” and that he has been trying to convince Meta executives to implement safety measures for Instagram use.

If you feel that your child’s mental health has been negatively affected by the use of Instagram or Facebook, tell us about your experience by filling out the form below or calling toll-free at (866) 981-4800. All consultations are confidential.

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