Instagram Is Not Toxic, Says Facebook

Elina Rudkovsky


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Facebook’s Vice President and Head of Research Pratiti RayChoudhury has come up with a response to the criticism by The Wall Street Journal, published on September 14 and stating that Instagram was “toxic” to teenage girls. The author of the newspaper article expressed concerns that viewing Instagram posts makes a large share of adolescent girls feel bad about their bodies.

In her post in the Newsroom section of Facebook’s official site, RayChoudhury dismisses the interpretation of research data provided by WSJ as inaccurate. She describes the newspaper’s article as a “mischaracterization.” She also provides refreshed versions of the Research Deck slides that were originally the source of journalistic concern so that viewers can observe the data in context and thus avoid jumping to conclusions.

Apart from blaming The Wall Street Journal for poor interpretation, RayChoudhury mentions that the research was not meant to inform serious discussions on the cause-and-effect relationships between Instagram use and teenage wellbeing. Rather, its purpose was to supply data for internal talks. The people in charge of preparing the statistics are said to have been aware of its limited scope and the fact that actually measuring Instagram’s impact on real life would be much more nuanced. 

One reason why the data that the WSJ referred to in its September 14 piece cannot be considered representative is that the sample was as minuscule as 40 respondents, with roughly a billion people using Instagram globally. According to RayChoudhury, Facebook did not try to hide the potentially alarming data but initially collected those in order to make its networking app better in terms of teenager wellbeing. She lists a number of measures taken by the company to become teen-friendlier. 

Care to share your opinion on the Instagram toxicity? Meet us in the comments.