Free World - September 14, 2021

Anastasia Vlasova joined Instagram at 13 and eventually was spending three hours…


Anastasia Vlasova joined Instagram at 13 and eventually was spending three hours a day entranced by the seemingly perfect lives and bodies of the fitness influencers who posted on the app. ⁠⁠
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About a year ago, she started seeing a therapist after developing an eating disorder—something she attributes to her time on the platform. “When I went on Instagram, all I saw were images of chiseled bodies, perfect abs and women doing 100 burpees in 10 minutes,” said Vlasova, now 18, who lives in Reston, Va.⁠⁠
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When researchers inside Instagram began studying young users’ experiences on the app, they found that nearly a third of teenage girls said the platform made negative feelings they had about their bodies worse, internal documents show. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves,” the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by the Journal. ⁠⁠
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For the past three years, Instagram owner Facebook has been conducting studies into how the app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.⁠⁠
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“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. ⁠⁠
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The research offers the deepest look yet at what Facebook knows about the app’s impact on teens and their mental health. Researchers concluded that some of the problems were specific to Instagram, and not social media more broadly. ⁠⁠
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In public, Facebook has consistently played down the app’s negative effects on teens, and hasn’t made its research public or available to academics or lawmakers who have asked for it.⁠⁠
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Read more at the link in our bio.⁠⁠
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📷: @hanloveyoon for @wsjphotos



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