The Wall Street Journal has done a series on Facebook called “The Facebook Files” based on internal documents by a former employee. The whistleblower will be appearing on 60 Minutes tonight. You can be sure Zuckerberg will be watching.
The documents reveal that “elite” Facebook users are exempt from a lot of the platform’s rules, like terms of service that lands you in “Facebook jail.” Yeah, the beautiful people don’t have to worry about that. Look at Donald Trump and Twitter. How many terrorist attacks and mass shootings did the guy have to have inspired before he finally got banned?
By the way, Twitter: Why is Ben Garrison back on your platform? All he did was create a new account and is back to posting the same anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and inspiring white nationalists that you originally deleted his fuckwit ass for. The Trump cultist is posting cartoons about microchips and endorsing horse de-wormer. Twitter, you need to de-fucknut your platform. But I digress.
The documents revealed by the Journal also show Facebook’s response to human traffickers is extremely weak. For example, Matt Gaetz is still on Facebook. He doesn’t need Facebook jail. He needs real jail.
The whistleblower also revealed, which will come to a complete surprise to everyone, that connections on its platform between friends and families is actually elevating “divisive content” and increasing hate and animosity. I’d ask my two sisters how they feel about that if we were still talking and I hadn’t already blocked their MAGA asses. Girls, I said “MAGA” asses, not “MEGA.” Please don’t write me.
All that stuff is bad, but the revelation that’s received the most attention and has even led to two congressional hearings is that Instagram increases anxiety and trauma on younger users’ mental health and stigmatizes body image. Now, if the camel in my cartoon was on Instagram, some mean girls would be body-shaming his humps. Don’t worry, Joe. Your humps are as sexy as Fergie’s humps, her humps, her lovely lady lumps, from the Black Eyed Peas. Can you believe it’s been over 15 years since that song came out? Can you believe the Black Eyed Peas are still around even after releasing songs like “My Humps?” Can you believe I just put that earworm in you?
In a series of slides to defend itself (my humps. my humps. Just checking), Facebook actually admits that Instagram has made image anxiety and body shaming worse for one in three teenage girls, but they say that’s only from people who responded to its survey. So what they’re saying without knowing is that it could be worse…a lot worse.
Then, the Journal released more internal documents, including statistics indicating that 66 percent of teen girls and 40 percent of teen boys on Instagram experience “negative social comparisons,” that 52 percent of teen girls experiencing this negative social comparison say it was the result of images related to beauty, and that Instagram made pre-existing body image issues even worse in 32 percent of teen girls.
One in five teens say Instagram makes them feel worse about themselves. The research further found that Instagram had the highest impact on body and appearance comparisons relative to apps like TikTok, Snapchat, and VSCO. I don’t even know what VSCO is.
Instagram is creating image envy and they’re doing it with stuff like 0-sized models in diet tea ads, and I totally understand that image envy. I live by a college and every time a shirtless 20-year old male college student jogs by my apartment, I just want to shout from my second-story window, “I hope you get hit by a bus, you flat-stomach fuck! It’s not fair! Why? Why?” And then I eat a bunch of bacon and ice cream.
Instagram is creating these filters. The more you see these ads creating body shaming and image envy, the more your friends see them…and the more your friends see them, the more you see them. The next thing you know, you’re scrolling through Instagram crying while inhaling two pounds of bacon and a gallon of chunky fudge ice cream. I know I do that and I’m not a teenage girl (but I do think Taylor Swift is the shiznit. I’m so old, I still say “shiznit” I bet will.i.am still says “shiznit”. I just made Andréa, my copy editor, look up “will.i.am”. A few days ago, I introduced her to the word “strange” as a noun).
The slide decks Facebook created to study this details how teens spiral on Instagram, compared the experience of falling down one of these toxic rabbit holes to the stages of grief. The rabbit holes that lead to one another are bargaining, insecurity, self-described dysmorphia, anger, paralysis, and withdrawal. The main thing that creates these rabbit holes is stalking other people’s rabbit holes. Don’t stalk people’s holes, people. Taylor Swift has probably written some songs about this.
Teens are basing their bodies on those of celebrities, whose bodies are about as realistic as a Barbie doll. Nobody looks like Ryan Reynolds. Even Ryan Reynolds doesn’t look like Ryan Reynolds, that flat-stomach Canadian. Can someone up there please introduce him to poutine?
Here’s my advice: Take a break. Step away. Take a walk. Jump on a city bus and see where it takes you. Leave your phone at home. Eat some poutine and then spit it out. Watch a Ryan Reynolds movie that’s NOT “Green Lantern.” Shout expletives at jogging college students. Google to find out why Fergie left the Black Eyed Peas. Distract yourself with the real world.
Fairly recently, I was banned from Facebook for three days because I posted a cartoon saying the Taliban is mean to women. Facebook is apparently very protective of the Sex traffickers and the Taliban. I actually enjoyed that time away from Facebook. It was three days of uninterrupted bacon. I reposted the same cartoon as soon as the ban was lifted, hoping I’d get banned again…but it didn’t work.
Remember, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest (whatever people do there), LinkedIn (whatever people do there), and MySpace (if it’s still there) need you more than you need it.
Now excuse me, I think I hear some joggers approaching.
Creative note: All those teens on Instagram probably don’t even know who Joe Camel is.
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