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The Sunday Show - Tech Policy Press 16th September 2021
Rep. Lori Trahan on Instagram, teens and mental health

Rep. Lori Trahan on Instagram, teens and mental health

Today, I spoke with Representative Lori Trahan, the Congresswoman for the third district in Massachussetts, to get her reaction to a disturbing report in the Wall Street Journal about internal research at Instagram related to mental health impacts of that social media service, particularly on teens. 

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal published its headline, Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show.” The Journal’s Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman wrote that the Instagram documents they obtained were part of a "trove of internal communications provided to them on areas including teen mental health, political discourse and human trafficking."

  • “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” said a March 2020 slide presentation.
  • “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said a slide from 2019.
  • And, the Journal says that one presentation showed that "among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram."

I caught up with Representative Trahan earlier this afternoon. She put the Wall Street Journal’s report into the context of questions she asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a March 2021 hearing in the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and talked about what Congress might do next to hold the company accountable.

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