Instagram has long been under the scrutiny of authorities due to its apparent lack of child safety measures. However, this recently resulted in a lawsuit from over 33 states against Meta and Instagram for allegedly prioritizing profits. Now, in light of this lawsuit, another former Facebook employee, Arturo Bejar, has reportedly come forward to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, once again highlighting the impact of Instagram on children’s mental health.
During his time as a consultant with Facebook in 2019, Bejar and his team developed a questionnaire named the BEEF (Bad Emotional Experience Feedback) to assess user experiences on Instagram. And although feedback forms are common in such companies, the results of these reports were alarming since over 20% of users under 16 reported feeling worse about themselves after viewing others’ posts, and 13% experienced “unwanted sexual advances” within seven days. Additionally, teenagers from various ethnic backgrounds reported instances of hostility based on race, religion, and identity.
Echoing the allegations of the lawsuit
Bejar’s statements coincide with the ongoing sensitive situation for Meta since the lawsuit also alleges that the company misled people about the potential risks of Instagram on children’s safety. And if Bejar’s statements are accurate, it would mean that Facebook was aware of the risks but chose to disregard them intentionally for financial gain and user engagement.
When talking about the statements, Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal, members of the judiciary committee, highlighted the need for strict regulations aimed at protecting minors and stated, “From Arturo’s disclosures, we now know that Mark Zuckerberg, Adam Mosseri, and other Meta executives were personally warned that millions of teens face bullying, eating disorder material, illicit drugs, and sexual exploitation, often within minutes of opening the app.”
In response to these allegations, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone countered the claims, stating, “It’s absurd to suggest we only started user perception surveys in 2019 or that there’s some sort of conflict between that work and prevalence metrics. Prevalence metrics and user perception surveys measure two different things.” Furthermore, he also argued that the BEEF survey was not specific and did not include a definition for unwanted sexual advances.