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Instagram promoted pages glorifying eating disorders to teen accounts – Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia 2021-10-04 21:06:43 –

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Commercial Science on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security on Online Safety and Mental Health of Children, by Antigone Davis, Global Safety Officer at Facebook. I see it as a de facto testimony to the Transport Subcommittee. September 30, 2021 at Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Brenner-Pool / Getty Images)

“I have to lose weight” “I’m hungry forever” “I want to be perfect” These are the Instagram algorithms that have been promoted to accounts registered as belonging to a 13-year-old girl who has shown an interest in weight loss and dieting. The name of the account.

Evidence that Instagram is not only failing to crack down on accounts that promote extreme diets and eating disorders, but is actively promoting those accounts is faced by Instagram and its parent company Facebook. Come to be Thorough scrutiny over- The impact they have on youth mental health..

Instagram These accounts violated the rules for promoting extreme diets and admitted to CNN this weekend that they shouldn’t have been allowed on the platform.

The extreme diet account has been promoted to an Instagram account set up by Senator Richard Blumenthal’s staff. A team of Senators Connecticut registered their accounts as a 13-year-old girl and tracked several diet and eating disorder accounts (the latter being banned by Instagram). Soon, Instagram’s algorithms began to almost exclusively recommend that young teenage accounts should follow increasingly extreme diet accounts, Senator told CNN.

Blumenthal’s office shared with CNN a list of accounts recommended by Instagram’s algorithms. After CNN sent a sample from this list of five accounts to Instagram for comment, the company removed them and stated that all accounts violated the policy for encouraging eating disorders.

A spokeswoman for Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, told CNN that it “did not allow content that promotes or promotes eating disorders and deleted accounts shared for violating these rules.” “We use technology and reports from the community to find and remove this content as soon as possible and constantly work to improve it. We will continue to work on improvements from scholars and mental health organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association. Follow expert advice to strike a difficult balance between being able to share your mental health experience while protecting against potentially harmful content. “

Blumenthal told CNN on Monday: [Facebook’s] Claims to protect your child or delete accounts that may be dangerous to your child are absolute failures. “

Blumenthal’s experiments are not unusual, and you may be hardly surprised by the normal use of Instagram, which is familiar with how platform algorithms recommend accounts that users may be interested in. ..

Continue Report by The Wall Street Journal It is based on Facebook’s internal documents showing that the company is aware of the “toxic” impact its platform, especially Instagram, can have on young people. Many of the reports and Facebook’s subsequent commentary focus on the negative impact of social comparisons with celebrities and popular people on the app. The problem Facebook says is society as a whole, not just apps. However, according to the WSJ report, Facebook researchers admit that “Instagram’s social comparison is worse than some other platforms because it focuses on the whole body and human lifestyle.” ..

Blumenthal’s experiments go deeper and show how quickly Instagram algorithms promote harmful content to younger users.

Last week, CNN set up an account using the same methodology as the Senator’s office. I also followed some extreme diet and eating disorder accounts. On Sunday, Instagram promoted accounts with names such as “Sweet Skinny,” “Prettily Skinny,” and “Wanna Be Skinny” to an experimental CNN account, also registered for a 13-year-old girl. CNN contacted Instagram and asked if these accounts also violated the policy.

Dangers of Instagram Eating Disorder Content

According to experts, viewing the content of these extreme diet accounts may include, for example, a very thin body image or information about the user’s “current weight” and “target weight”, which may already lead to unhealthy behavior. It acts as a verification for prone users.

“This is called confirmation bias, and people tend to ask for information that confirms that they already believe it to be true,” said Pamela Kiel, a professor of psychology at Florida State University. studied How the use of Instagram can contribute to eating disorders. Confirmation bias is often discussed in the context of other social media issues, such as false alarms for vaccines, but also for those who “already think they need to be thin and are looking for others to agree with.” It can have an impact, which is important, “she said.

“Even if validation is really really harmful to our personal health, we’re always looking for the right validation,” Kiel added, adding Instagram stakes to avoid promoting such content. raised.

The Wall Street Journal report Last month, Facebook researchers who studied the impact on young users over the past three years discovered that Instagram could damage young users’ mental health and body image, especially teenage girls. .. According to an internal document quoted by the newspaper, the app exacerbated one in three emotions for a teenage girl who recently experienced body image problems.

so Senate hearing last weekAntigone Davis, Facebook’s global security officer, criticized the journal’s report and called the Facebook document “not a bomb study.” She added that the company feels that “more teenage girls are actually helping Instagram.” Francis HogenA former Facebook employee who leaked documents to journals and lawmakers is set to testify to the same Senate committee on Tuesday.

Instagram also pushes back claims about its role in perpetuating harmful behavior, stating that social comparisons are a widespread issue and potentially problematic images are available elsewhere. I did. Indeed, an online community that “promotes anorexia nervosa” has existed for years prior to the rise of Instagram. However, the widespread use of Instagram among young women and girls means that such content posted on that platform can be particularly dangerous, Kiel said. increase.

“Instagram has one advantage in the age group that is already at the highest risk of eating disorders. [issue]”Kiel said. “You have a vicious circle. There are groups at high risk for these problems, showing to this artificial intelligence that this is what draws their attention, and that artificial intelligence states: This is.’… it’s just a perfect storm. “

Chelsea Kronengold, communications leader at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), said Instagram and other social media sites may not cause eating disorders or other body image problems, but “definitely in these situations. I know it’s a strong risk factor, “he added.

Following last month’s journal report, Instagram Details of some new features We plan to implement it to address mental health concerns, such as “nudge” that encourages users to change their viewing habits when they recently see potentially problematic content (some developed in partnership with NEDA). it was done). According to experts, the company wants to allow users recovering from eating disorders to discuss their experiences while potentially preventing them from triggering content.

“Eating disorders are so dangerous that there is no long-term benefit to killing members of the largest user base. There is no way what it is. [Instagram] I want it, “Kiel said. “My one request is to be more transparent. You are tracking this and trying to do something to minimize the risk of your site, and you are trying I’m trying to be more transparent about that. “

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, NEDA (USA) has access to telephone, text, and chat services. Website Phone and chat services are available at Beat (UK) Website..



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