“A year ago, the teenager Anastasia Vlasova started going to the therapist because she had developed an eating disorder and she knew why: too much time on Instagram. She joined the platform at age 13 and spent hours and hours fascinated by the seemingly perfect bodies and lives of the fitness influencers who posted on the app. ” Thus begins a report of The Wall Street Journal published this Wednesday, September 15, which reveals investigations that Facebook did on the influence of Instagram on young people, and that had never been revealed.

The research, called “The Facebook Files,” says that just over 30 percent of “young teenage girls, when they feel uncomfortable with their bodies, Instagram makes them feel even worse.” This is only part of an extensive study that, in truth, aims to corroborate what many specialists had expressed before about the relationship between young people and the social network Instagram.

The Facebook Files talks about health problems and increased anxiety, among other things.

The files contradict what Mark Zuckerberg and Adam Mosseri, CEO of Facebook and Instagram respectively, have expressed on the subject.

Furthermore, earlier this year Zuckerberg was asked about the social networks under his orbit and the mental health of children and adolescents and he replied that “they can bring benefits.”

According to the study, which WSJ had access to and which was made in March 2020, “the comparison between Instagram profiles can alter the way in which young women see themselves.”

Instagram is toxic

Another previous study, from 2019, which was also hidden by Facebook, had already concluded that the social network Instagram “worsens the body image problems of one in three young adolescents” and that “adolescents understand that the blame for the increase in anxiety and depression is related to Instagram ”.

The study is lapidary: It says that among teens who reported having suicidal thoughts, 13 percent of those of British descent and 6 percent of those born in the US said they understand that Instagram is responsible.

lapidary Wall Street Journal report
Percentage distribution of Instagram users in Mexico in June 2021, by age group.

In response to the WSJ report, Facebook said that “on Instagram, they analyze the benefits and risks of what is done” and that they are “proud that the application can give a voice to those who have been marginalized, that it can help friends and family to stay connected all over the planet, which drives social change ”, but they also know that“ it can be a place where people also have some negative experiences ”.

The issue is serious if one takes into account that, for example in Mexico, 8.2% of Instagram users are between 13 and 17 years old, the range analyzed by the report.