Digital cigarettes

Of course, as a culture we have decided that marketing cigarettes to children is unethical. Yet, we haven’t found the political will to put guardrails on how Instagram is able to market to teens.

We know that the more Instagram that teens use the worst they feel about themselves.

Here are the highlights of the WSJ expose on what Instagram knows it is doing to teens:

  • 40 percent of those who reported feeling “unattractive” said the feelings started when using Instagram.
  • Facebook’s top executives concluded that Instagram was engineered towards greater “social comparison” than rival apps like TikTok and Snapchat.
  • Teens told Facebook’s researchers that they felt “addicted” to Instagram and wanted to check it less often, but didn’t have the self-control to do it.
  • “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said internal research by Facebook.
  • Facebook found that among teens who said they had suicidal thoughts, 13 percent of UK users and 6 percent of US users said these impulses could be tracked back to Instagram.

We live in the age of junk food media or digital cigarettes. Whatever analogy you want to use, if we were to relabel the product, perhaps we be more cautious in how we use it.

We are not the customers, we are the products.