Facebook will post two internal slides detailing its research on how Instagram affects teen mental health “in the next few days”. Speaking of the host Atlantic, company chief Nick Clegg said the company would release the data to Congress before making it available to the public.
“We’re just worried that all the T’s have been crossed out and that the dots have been drawn so we can announce them to Congress and then to the public in the next few days,” Clegg said of the slides, some of which have already been published for more than 10 days. then The Wall Street Journal an investigation into how Instagram affects teenagers who use it. Referring to an internal survey conducted by Facebook, The Journal wrote that “Instagram is detrimental to a fair percentage” of teenagers, especially teenage girls.
The investigation immediately led to the rejection of lawmakers, many of whom were already cautious about Facebook’s handling of child safety and its plans to build a version of its service for children under 13. On Monday, Instagram said it would work to create more “Parental Control Tools.” Members of Congress responded by saying they want the company to fully realize the project. The head of Facebook’s security service is due to testify before the Senate Trade Committee on the subject on Thursday.
Facebook seems to be hoping that publishing more of its core research could help address the concerns of lawmakers and others. In a separate statement from Sunday, the company’s chief researcher suggested it The Wall Street Journal mischaracterized his research. Clegg went a step further on Monday, saying the document-based reporting “leaked someone who has a clear impression he has something to point out”.
“If you read the decks and compare them to some claims that, you know, Instagram is poisonous to all teenagers and so on, I don’t think any reasonable person … would say that research supports that claim,” Clegg said. “When the dust settles, people will see that we are just sincerely trying in some way – like outside researchers – to try to discover what a complex relationship there is between individuals, given their own individual circumstances, their lives and their use of social media. ”
A Facebook spokesman confirmed that the company would post “two decks” that were central to The Journal report, but did not explain in detail the time of publication.
But the decks alone probably won’t diminish Facebook’s criticism. First, Facebook’s own refutation The Wall Street Journal reporting seems to be the significance of one’s own research. “This research, some of which relied on the contributions of just 40 teenagers, is designed to inform internal conversations about teenagers’ most negative perceptions of Instagram, ”Facebook Vice President Raychoudhury wrote. “It didn’t measure the cause-and-effect relationship between Instagram and real-world problems.”
It also asks questions about how Facebook will present the data it publishes. Last month, the company posted “widely viewed content” on its platform. The report was supposed to reject criticism that News Feed favors content polarization. However, researchers outside the company quickly made holes in the report and said it was a symbol of Facebook’s big transparency problems, especially when it comes to work.
That is why it is important that Clegg referred to “external researchers” in his defense of the company. If Instagram isn’t actually harmful to most teenagers, as the company claims, then researchers who aren’t on Facebook’s payroll can be positioned to make that credible. However, researchers say the company has made it difficult to access the data. In some cases, the company actively blocked outsiders from studying its platform, for example when it recently disabled the personal Facebook accounts of researchers at New York University, and then gave explanations about the reasons for that, according to the FTC. (By the way, a researcher at the center of that controversy is testifying at a separate Congress this week.)
They may seem like unrelated issues. But if Facebook had had better relationships with researchers outside the company and published more of its findings, it could have better resisted internal critics who “have to bring out some things”.
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