Facebook’s own internal research found that one in eight users reported compulsive use of social media that interfered with their sleep, work and relationships – what the social media platform calls ‘problematic use’ but is more commonly known as “internet addiction”, the the Wall Street newspaper reported.
The social media platform had a team focused on user welfare, who suggested ways to limit problematic uses, some of which have been put in place. But the company shut down the team in 2019, according to the WSJ.
Pratiti Raychoudhury, vice president of research for Meta, Facebook’s new parent company, writes in a blog post that the WSJ misrepresented research (a claim the company made about some of the other items that WSJ produced based on internal Facebook documents).
She says the company “has been engaged and supported throughout our multi-year efforts to better understand and empower the people who use our services to manage problematic uses. This is why this work has spanned several years, including now. Raychoudhury says that “problematic use is not synonymous with addiction” and that the company offers “features to help people manage their experiences on our apps and services.”
The report is the latest in an ongoing series of the WSJ called the Facebook Files, based on internal documents provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen, which suggests that Facebook is aware of the problems its platforms can cause. One set of reports, for example, suggested that Facebook knew its Instagram platform was toxic to teenage users. Haugen testified before Congress on October 5, claiming that Facebook was “internally dysfunctional” and that it was unlikely to change its behavior without the action of external regulators.