Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. That is the central finding of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management.
Facebook Inc. is scheduled to testify at a Senate hearing on Thursday about its products’ effects on young people’s mental health.
The hearing in front of the Commerce Committee’s consumer-protection subcommittee was prompted by a mid-September article in The Wall Street Journal. Based on internal company documents, it detailed Facebook’s internal research on the negative impact of its Instagram app on teen girls and others.
Six of the documents that formed the basis of the Instagram article are published below. A person seeking whisteblower status has provided these documents to Congress. Facebook published two of these documents earlier Wednesday.
The Instagram article was part of a series called the Facebook Files, which was based on research reports, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management, among other company communications. It revealed how clearly Facebook knows its platforms are flawed.
Facebook has said the Journal’s Instagram article mischaracterized its findings. In a blog post published 12 days after the article, the company’s head of research said many teens “feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced.”In the documents that follow, the names of Facebook employees whose names appear in the documents have been redacted, excepting only the most senior. Every named person has been contacted and given an opportunity to comment. Third-party images that aren’t directly relevant to the research have been pixelated. And some title pages were modified to remove extraneous material.
- Teen Girls Body Image and Social Comparison on Instagram—An Exploratory Study in the US.
- Teen Mental Health Deep Dive.
- Appearance-based social comparison on Instagram.
- Social comparison: Topics, celebrities, Like counts, selfies.
- Mental Health Findings.
- Teens & Young Adults on IG & FB.
Read the investigative series on WSJ
Facebook's Documents About Instagram and Teens, Published
The Senate holds a hearing Thursday about the social network's impact on children and young adults. It was prompted by Wall Street Journal coverage that drew from the company's own research.