FACEBOOK AWARE OF INSTAGRAM’S HARMFUL EFFECT ON TEENS
Facebook commissioned internal research which revealed Instagram’s harmful effect on teenage girls, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.
The research, which Facebook had kept secret for the last two years, found that Instagram “make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls” and that “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” according to leaked documents.
Of even greater concern was the finding that 13% of UK users who reported suicidal thoughts attribute some of their feelings to experiences on Instagram.
The report reveals the extent to which Facebook is already aware of the damaging effects its existing social media apps have on children and young people, calling into question the motivations behind Facebook’s proposed “Instagram for Kids” app aimed at under-13s.
The findings of the research were in stark contrast to testimony given by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a March hearing, in which he claimed he had seen research that “using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits.”
Campaign group 5Rights Foundation have described the unearthed research as a “devastating indictment of the carelessness with which [Facebook], and the tech sector more broadly, treats children.
“In pursuit of profit these companies are stealing children’s time, self-esteem and mental health, and sometimes tragically their lives”
Instagram’s head of public policy, Karina Newton, responded to the WSJ report with a blog post in which she claimed the report “focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light.”
“We stand by this research. It demonstrates our commitment to understanding complex and difficult issues young people may struggle with, and informs all the work we do to help those experiencing these issues,” Newton said.
VIRTUAL “STRIP CLUBS” FOUND ON ROBLOX
People on Roblox are using the site to organise virtual strip clubs, a report by Rolling Stone has found.
Users on the children’s platform create profiles resembling young women and attend the strip clubs, in which other users are able to request lap dances in exchange for “Robux”, the platform’s digital currency, which can be exchanged for cash.
“I mainly do it for the attention,” one user, aged 16, who participates in the virtual strip clubs, told Rolling Stone, adding that she is regularly sent messages by older men, and threats from other users to expose her if she doesn’t send explicit pictures or messages.
“There are a small number of bad actors who may attempt to undermine the rules, and we continue to evolve our platform and policies to combat this challenge.”
SNAP HIRE FIRST HEAD OF SAFETY
Snap Inc, which owns video-sharing app Snapchat, has hired its first global head of platform safety as part of efforts to improve user safety.
Jacqueline Beauchere has been hired to advise on safety policy and liaise with regulators and lawmakers, and previously worked as chief online safety officer for Microsoft.
The move is part of a wider initiative by Snap Inc to showcase their online safety work in the wake of mental health and child safety concerns raised by lawmakers. Other plans include tighter age verification technologies to prevent under-13s from accessing the app, and an improved process for reporting platform abuses.
“There is no one better suited to help us accomplish this than Jacqueline,” said Snap’s vice president of global policy, Jen Stout.
“This work will only become more important as we deepen our focus into augmented reality and the future of computing.”
COVID PASS FRAUD
The public have been advised to be alert to potential fraud by criminals who send imitation text messages or emails or who make phone calls pretending to be from the NHS, offering fake vaccine certificates.
Action Fraud UK warns that these may be offered for sale online and through social media and seek to obtain money or financial and other personal information.
For advice on how to get your free NHS COVID Pass, visit www.nhs.uk/nhscovidpass.
Our Safeguarding and Prevent Continuing Professional Development E-learning courses have now been updated for the new school year. Visit our website for more details.