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Instagram chief faces criticism after comparing social media to cars

(NewsNation Now) — Facebook’s Instagram chief is under fire after he compared the negative effects of social media to cars.

“Cars have positive and negative outcomes,” Adam Mosseri said on the Recode Media podcast. “We understand that we know that more people die than would otherwise because of car accidents. But by and large, cars create way more value in the world than they destroy. And I think social media is similar.”

It comes days after Facebook acknowledged it had data showing at least a quarter of its youngest users found Instagram exacerbated feelings of low self-esteem and poor body image. Critics say the company should have used that data to make positive changes.

At least three senators have written a letter to the company asking it to rethink its upcoming Instagram for Kids platform.

There are some, including Divided State of America host Heather Gardner, who believe the senators should do more.

“There’s a lack of [social media] regulation on the federal level and the state level,” Gardner said on NewsNation’s The Donlon Report on Thursday. “So comparing [social media to cars] is definitely not apples to apples.”

The impact on kids can be long lasting. Dr. Katherine Kuhlman, a psychologist in Arizona, said one of the things about children that is supposed to help them grow could be negatively impacted by social media.

“Adolescent and child brains have a lot of elasticity, which is great for learning. It means that they’re kind of like a sponge and they can soak things up,” Kuhlman said on NewsNation’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” “But what that also means is that they are far more susceptible and vulnerable to this kind of manipulation.”

At issue is dopamine, which the brain releases as a sort of pleasure chemical.

“We, more than anything else, have to help educate our teens about the way these platforms are designed,” Dr. Wendy Dickinson said on On Balance. “They’re designed to be addictive. Every time something refreshes, or you get a another like, you get a hit of dopamine, which causes you to come back.”

Earlier this week, when asked for comment about the data it collected, Facebook pointed us to a blog post where it said even trying to understand the numbers was proof the company cared about its users.

Though it uses different wording than Mosseri, the underlying message from the company is similar.

“The question on many people’s minds is if social media is good or bad for people. The research on this is mixed; it can be both,” it says.


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