Academics Tell Facebook That Internal Research into Effects of Platform on Kids Is ‘Doomed to Fail’

Mark Zuckerberg deep in thought (Drew Angerer /Getty)
Drew Angerer /Getty

In a recent letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a group of academics stated that internal Facebook research into the effects of the platform is “doomed to fail,” and the company should allow third-party groups to review the impact of Zuckerberg’s platforms on young people.

USA Today reports that in a recent letter sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a group of academics stated that the company should allow third-party groups to conduct research into how the social media platform affects younger users, as Facebook’s internal research is “doomed to fail.”

Mark Zuckerberg surrounded by guards

Mark Zuckerberg surrounded by guards (Chip Somodevilla /Getty)

Sad teen with a phone in her bedroom - stock photo Single sad teen holding a mobile phone lamenting sitting on the bed in her bedroom with a dark light in the background

Sad teen with a phone in her bedroom – stock photo (Getty Images)

The academics stated that Meta, the new name for Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp’s parent company, should make any past and current research being done on its online products available for independent review. The letter was written by 15 scholars and signed by more than 300 others.

Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, who organized the initiative, commented: “In principle, we applaud that Meta tries to understand how its platforms may be impacting the mental health of young people. However, the work is not only methodologically questionable, it is also conducted in secret. That’s why such studies are misguided and, in their present state, doomed to fail.”

The letter states that Meta’s current studies of its possible negative effect on the mental health of younger users fail to live up to current scientific standards. “The fact that you are conducting the research revealed in recent press reports makes it clear you agree that such effects are a real possibility,” the letter reads.

The letter comes just days ahead of a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing set to take place on Wednesday on the effect of Instagram’s platform on younger users. The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, is expected to testify at the hearing.

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has been critical of Instagram’s dealings with younger users, stating:  “Instagram’s repeated failures to protect children’s privacy have already been exposed before the U.S. Senate.” She added: “Now, it is time for action. I look forward to discussing tangible solutions to improve safety and data security for our children and grandchildren.”

Read more at USA Today here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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