MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough launched into a screaming rant Wednesday over a report that Facebook has known for years that Instagram is toxic for teenage girls, and has led to increased suicidal thoughts.
‘They know that their product … is killing teenage girls, their product is destroying the lives of teenage girls, their product is causing anxiety to rise in teenage girls, their product is causing depression to rise in teenage girls,’ the Morning Joe host shouted on air.
The angry tirade was in response to a bombshell report on leaked internal Facebook research obtained by the Wall Street Journal that shows Instagram harms young girls’ body image, and that the tech giant had known about the platform’s harmful effects since at least 2019.
Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough launched into a furious rant Wednesday over a bombshell report that Facebook knew internally that Instagram was having a harmful effects on teenage girls, but continued to deny it publicly
Armed with that knowledge, Scarborough said there was no doubt that Facebook employees limited or entirely blocked their children from using the platform at home.
‘It would be like asking a tobacco company in the 1960s if they let their 14 year old smoke cigarettes,’ he said, drawing comparison to an industry that for years knew its product had adverse health effects but denied them publicly for years.
One message posted on an internal Facebook message board in March 2020 said the app revealed that 32 percent of girls said Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies if they were already having insecurities.
Another slide, from a 2019 presentation, said: ‘We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.
‘Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression. This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.’
Some of the research outlined in the report was shown to company employees as recent as last March
Another presentation found that among teens who felt suicidal, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced their suicidal feelings to Instagram.
Scarborough claimed that Facebook was already responsible for a number of catastrophes in the US, such as worsening the Covid-19 pandemic through the spread of misinformation, and helping organize that January 6 insurrection on the Capitol.
‘Somebody has got to stop this monopoly from not only spreading lies about Covid, not only making a pandemic worse, not only spreading anti-democratic conspiracy theories that lead to January the sixth, and help organize the first attack on Capitol Hill since the war of 1812, but also are killing our teenage girls,’ he said casting blame on Washington lawmakers for their inaction.
Lawmakers blasted the leaked data, but Scarborough laid blame at the them, saying they have not acted against previous controversies that have embroiled the tech giant
Parents and politicians reacted angrily to the data, calling it ‘sickening’ that Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have known how harmful Instagram is but have done nothing about it.
‘This is appalling. I’ll be demanding answers from Mark Zuckerberg,’ Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey tweeted.
Zuckerberg, however, has been quiet in the past about the issues the app is blamed for causing among young girls.
He told Congress in March 2021 that Instagram has ‘positive mental-health benefits’.
In August, when asked for information on how its products harmed young girls, the company responded in a letter to Senators: ‘We are not aware of a consensus among studies or experts about how much screen time is “too much”.’
While outrage against Facebook has mounted, Congress has so far stopped short of taking concrete steps to regulate the company
Senator Richard Blumenthal told the Journal that Facebook’s answers were vague which raised questions that it was deliberately hiding the research.
‘Facebook’s answers were so evasive – failing to respond to all our questions – that they really raise questions about what Facebook might be hiding.
‘Facebook seems to be taking a page from the textbook of Big Tobacco – targeting teens with potentially dangerous products while masking the science in public.’
In the letter, the company also said it kept the research ‘confidential to promote frank and open dialogue and brainstorming internally.’
The slides also revealed how younger users had moved away from Facebook to using Instagram.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg knew about the March 2020 research but still went before Congress virtually in March 2021 (shown above) and claimed Instagram has ‘positive mental-health benefits’
Forty percent of Instagram’s 1billion monthly users are under the age of 22 and just over half are female.
The group of teens who said they were negatively impacted by the app were aged 13 and above.
Despite this, Zuckerberg even announced plans to launch a product for kids under the age of 13.
He told Congress that it would be safe, answering ‘I believe the answer is yes’ when asked if the effects of how safe it would be would be studied.
Concluding his rant, Scarborough called on lawmakers to take action against the social media giant.
‘Stop telling us what you can’t do and start holding this malignant force in America in check,’ he said.
THE DATA FACEBOOK WAS SHOWN ON HOW INSTAGRAM HARMED YOUNG GIRLS AND BOYS
Question of the things you’ve felt in the last month, did any of them start on Instagram? Select all that apply
Don’t have enough money
Don’t have enough friends
Down, sad or depressed
Wanted to kill themselves
Wanted to hurt themselves
Question: In general, how has Instagram affected the way you feel about yourself, your mental health?
US boys and girls: 3%
US boys: 2%
US girls: 3%
UK total: 2%
UK boys: 1%
UK girls: 2%
US total: 16%
US Boys 12%
US girls: 18%
UK total: 19%
UK boys: 13%
UK girls: 23%
US total: 41%
US boys: 37%
US girls: 43%
UK total: 46%
UK boys: 50%
UK girls: 44%
US total: 29%
US boys: 32%
US girls: 29%
UK total: 28%
UK boys: 31%
UK girls: 26%
US total: 12%
US boys: 18%
US girls 8%
UK total: 5%
UK boys: 5%
UK girls: 4%