After already refuting a report that claimed Facebook executives have been slow to respond to known harms across its platforms, such as those affecting teen girls, the social media behemoth has clapped back, again.
The WSJ, referencing internal documents that included research reports, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management, said Facebook’s researchers sounded alarms about “the platform’s ill effects” time and time again but they went ignored by higher-ups.
The documents revealed company research showing how detrimental Instagram can be for teen mental health, that Facebook’s executives failed to address employee concern about reports of the platform being co-opted by human traffickers in developing countries and that Facebook gives preferential treatment to certain high-profile users that flout its rules.
In its own version of a fact-checking campaign, Facebook shortly after said that while it was “absolutely legitimate” for Facebook to be held accountable for how it tackles harmful issues on its platforms, the WSJ cherry-picked quotes from leaked material to create “a deliberately lop-sided view of the wider facts”.
Over the weekend, Facebook decided to say more.
“It is simply not accurate that this research demonstrates Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teen girls,” a blog post from Facebook says.
“The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced.”
According to Facebook, teenage girls who said they struggled with loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues also said that Instagram made those difficult times better, rather than worse.
“Body image was the only area where teen girls who reported struggling with the issue said Instagram made it worse,” the blog continued.
“The majority of teenage girls who experienced body image issues still reported Instagram either made it better or had no impact.”
The blog post continues by saying claims the company was hiding its research, and that the results are surprising, are “simply not accurate”. It also said internal research is part of its effort to “minimise the bad” on its platforms and “maximise the good”.
Resurfacing the WSJ article comes a few days before Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis is set to appear before a U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee.