The Daily Telegraph

Facebook’s own figures showed Instagram was toxic for girls

- By Charles Hymas Home Affairs Editor and Mike Wright

FACEBOOK knew that Instagram was toxic for teenage girls, as leaked internal documents detailed the app’s impact on their mental health.

Secret research by the tech giant showed it made a third of teenage girls feel worse about their bodies.

The documents, which were leaked to the Wall Street Journal, also showed that one in seven, 13 percent, of suicidal UK girls interviewe­d by the company traced their desire to take their life back to Instagram.

One slide from an internal 2019 presentati­on warned Instagram executives that “we make body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls”.

After the leak, Facebook said the research cited “focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light” but added that it “demonstrat­es our commitment to understand­ing complex and difficult issues young people may struggle with”.

It comes as a leading children’s charity warns that children will continue to be abused online because of “significan­t” flaws in the Government’s proposed duty of care laws. In a 22-page analysis of the draft Bill, the NSPCC said the proposals excluded major social media platforms, failed to hold tech bosses to account for their firms’ failings and would allow sexual predators to continue to prey on children.

The charity also published figures showing the number of online child sexual offences has risen by 78 per cent in four years from 5,458 to 9,736 in 2020-21.

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