Instagram plans to promote funny memes and nature photos to tackle body image issues

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AAfter realizing that Instagram’s emphasis on ideal body images was damaging some users’ self-image and sanity, a group of company researchers came up with the idea of ​​distracting users with nature images and humorous memes, among other measures. The lighter content could compensate for the damage, they reasoned.

The researchers also suggested that Instagram could focus on posts with positive hashtags about body issues, like #loveyourself, and images of models of average height or above. Their work concluded that several essential Instagram elements were making matters worse, and if the company wanted to take drastic action, it might consider limiting likes or comments on a post, or even disabling its filter collection. photo, perhaps the most of the application. famous feature. It’s unclear if Instagram has taken any of these steps, although it obviously hasn’t taken the most dramatic, like removing filters.

While the Instagram team seemed undecided on the best course of action, they had come to some definitive conclusions on the issue at hand. “33% of Instagram users and 11% of Facebook users believe the platform is making their body image problems worse,” the report says. “Substantial evidence suggests that experiences on Instagram or Facebook worsen body dissatisfaction, especially viewing attractive images of others, viewing filtered images, posting selfies, and viewing content with certain hashtags.”

This 2020 report was not previously reported and comes from documents provided by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which were also provided to Congress in redacted form by her legal team. The redacted versions received by Congress were obtained by a consortium of news agencies, including Forbes.

Haugen’s documents, which became known as Facebook Papers, present an extremely detailed picture of Facebook and its struggles to balance its size and growth with a constellation of issues on its apps. One of the issues highlighted by these documents is how Instagram damages the mental health of its users, who see an ecosystem of organized and highly edited images, and then despair when their own lives, bodies and surroundings fail. not look like these photos. This is especially concerning given Instagram’s popularity with teens, a cohort already at risk for developing body image issues. (7.5% of its users are under 17, according to Statista data, and over 40% are under the age of 24.) Politicians have taken hold of this issue, hoping to find something easy for voters to understand that could perhaps lead to new regulation around the media. social. A Senate subcommittee has already heard testimony from Facebook security chief Antigone Davis and whistleblower Haugen. On Tuesday, it expanded its investigation by hosting executives from TikTok, YouTube and Snap, three other apps favored by teens.

The 2020 Body Image Report coincides with the first reports of The Wall Street Journal, who published the first stories based on the Haugen documents. The newspaper reported on additional internal reports showing that 32% of teenage girls said Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies. Overall, 20% of teens told Instagram researchers that the app made them feel less good about themselves. Facebook has dismissed nearly all of the reports from the Haugen leaks as being too sensational and a misunderstanding of Facebook’s efforts. Speaking to Wall Street analysts on the company’s earnings call last night, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “My take on what we’re seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use the documents. disclosed to create a false image of our company. “

This 2020 body image report contains several other surprising numbers. He cited an earlier study which found that 33% of those polled believed Instagram made their body image worse, and 66% of teenage girls on Instagram said they had body images. Almost a quarter of those surveyed said they had been harassed on Instagram and experienced some form of discrimination on the app. Almost 30% said Instagram got worse by ending an in-person relationship, likely because the app offered the option to continue monitoring the other person.

While offering possible solutions to the problem, the report also took the opportunity to highlight several ideas that the researchers said would not alleviate the problems. For example, the researchers concluded that promoting positive captions was not particularly constructive: it made some average-height users feel better, but had little impact on overweight or thin users. They also concluded that it was not useful to put warning labels on harmful body images. This raises questions about the effectiveness of labels applied to content on other Facebook apps, a practice the company has increasingly turned to over the past two years. He slapped labels on dangerous content related to the 2020 election, pandemic and coronavirus vaccines, typically directing users to a portal for verified information on the subject.


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