Facebook has attempted to defuse controversy over its research on adolescents on Instagram by releasing two of the reports to the public, annotating them with what it says is important context.

The social network also accuses the WSJ, who obtained copies of the reports, to “distort” their findings. The newspaper has yet to respond directly to this accusation, but has instead shared four other reports that Facebook has not made public …


The WSJ gained access to an internal presentation on three years of research on the impact of teenage Instagram use, especially teenage girls. The article concluded that the results showed that Instagram was “toxic” to teenage girls, and that Facebook was aware of it.

Facebook claimed the results were taken out of context and that its research actually showed that using Instagram was doing more good than harm. However, he later announced he was suspending work on an Instagram for Kids project.

The company also promised to make two of the reports public.

Facebook publishes two research reports on teens on Instagram

The social network first provided copies of two reports to Congress and then made them public. The published versions have annotations that the company believes are important in putting the results into context.

Earlier today, we provided Congress with the two full research sets that were the primary focus of the Wall Street Journal’s mis-characterization of internal Instagram research on teens and wellness. We’ve added annotations to each slide that give more context, as this type of research is designed to inform internal conversations, and the documents were created and used by people who understood the limits of the research. Now we’re publicly releasing these two Research Decks with annotations.

Most annotations claim either that Facebook was specifically looking for particular issues or that the results are not necessarily statistically significant. The latter claim seems odd, as the company clearly considered the results strong enough to inform policy decisions.

You can download the reports here:

Instagram Teen Annotated Research Deck 1
Instagram Teen Annotated Research Deck 2

The ‘WSJ’ publishes four more

The WSJ responded by publishing the original six reports.

Six of the documents that formed the basis of the Instagram post are posted below. A person seeking whistleblower status provided these documents to Congress. Facebook released two of these documents earlier on Wednesday.

The Instagram post was part of a series called Facebook Files, which was based on research reports, online discussions with employees, and draft presentations to senior management, among other company communications. This revealed how clearly Facebook knows its platforms are flawed.

The newspaper said it removed most of the employee names from the reports, but left the older ones.

You can download all six reports here:

Adolescent Body Image and Social Comparison on Instagram: An Exploratory Study in the United States.
Deep dive into adolescent mental health.
Social comparison based on appearance on Instagram.
Social comparison: topics, celebrities, number of likes, selfies.
Mental health outcomes.
Teens and young adults on IG and FB.

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