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Facebook to release internal research on Instagram's impact on teens

Nick Clegg, the social network's vice president of global affairs, says the research will be made public in "the next few days."

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook plans to release internal research on Instagram to Congress and the public after a Wall Street Journal report earlier this month raised serious concerns about the photo-sharing app's impact on the mental health of teens. The social network will share the research in the "next few days," said Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, during an online event hosted by the Atlantic on Monday

"If you read the decks and then compare it with some of the assertions that Instagram is toxic for all teens ... I don't think any reasonable person would say the research sustains that claim at all," Clegg said. "Of course, people should be the judge of that themselves."

Clegg's comments, which were earlier reported by Engadget, come as the social network is facing pressure from lawmakers after the Journal reported on Sept. 14 that Facebook researchers conducted studies over the past three years and found that Instagram is "harmful for a sizable percentage" of young users, particularly teenage girls. 

Facebook has pushed back on the report, saying in a blog post on Sunday that the purpose and results of its research on Instagram are being mischaracterized. The company's global head of safety is scheduled to speak Thursday before a Senate committee hearing that will look at "Facebook's research into the impact of its apps on young audiences, its actions to address threats to these users, and policy considerations to safeguard kids online."

Amid the scrutiny though, Facebook on Monday said it's pausing the development of Instagram Kids, a dedicated service it's building for children, in order to spend time focusing on developing parental supervision tools. In a blog post, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said he still believes building Instagram Kids is "the right thing to do," but added that the company wants to work with parents, experts and policymakers to demonstrate the "value and need" for the service. 

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.