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Following The Wall Street Journal’s published story about Instagram doing research to understand young people’s experiences on Instagram. The social media giant says that the story focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light. Despite that Instagram stands by it. Let’s have a look at how Instagram is using research to improve your experience.

At Instagram, we look at the benefits and the risks of what we do. We’re proud that our app can give voice to those who have been marginalized, that it can help friends and families stay connected from all corners of the world, that it can prompt societal change; but we also know it can be a place where people have negative experiences as the Journal called out“, says Karina Newton, Head of Public Policy, Instagram . Making sure that the users feel good about their experience on Instagram is something that the platform really cares about.

The Research in Context

The world today has increased connectivity while simultaneously consuming a lot more information. Instagram as a society is working its best to process these changes. “At Instagram, we hire the best researchers and scientists we can to look at these changes, and to help us understand how they impact people. We also consult with leading experts and researchers around the world to help us see beyond our own work.” says Karina Newton.

Instagram also acknowledges the fact that no study is going to be conclusive. Hence, it relies on an ever-growing body of multi-method research and expert input.

Instagram’s Findings

With both external and Instagram’s own research, it has found that the effects of social media on people’s well-being is mixed. But what is important to understand is the fact that how people use social media, and their state of mind when they use it.

A mixed methods study from Harvard described the “see-saw” of positive and negative experiences that US teens have on social media. The same person may have an important conversation with their friend on one day, and fall out with them the next day. According to research by Pew Internet on teens in the US, 81% of teens said that social media makes them feel more connected to their friends, while 26% reported social media makes them feel worse about their lives.” says Karina Newton.

Instagram’s findings were similar making it take an effort to respond to this research and change Instagram for the better.

What Instagram is Doing

We’re increasingly focused on addressing negative social comparison and negative body image. One idea we think has promise is finding opportunities to jump in if we see people dwelling on certain types of content. From our research, we’re starting to understand the types of content some people feel may contribute to negative social comparison, and we’re exploring ways to prompt them to look at different topics if they’re repeatedly looking at this type of content. We’re cautiously optimistic that these nudges will help point people towards content that inspires and uplifts them, and to a larger extent, will shift the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on how people look.” says Instagram on their blog.

Instagram also wants to be more transparent about the research it does and it will continue to look for opportunities to work with more partners to publish independent studies in this area both internally and in collaboration with external researchers.