Celebrity Instagram content linked to negative feelings, Facebook researchers say
LONDON: Big social media stars including Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Charli D’Amelio are among celebrities whose Instagram followers have the most negative feelings about their self-image, according to internal Facebook study revealed by The Wall Street Journal this week, raising questions about the impact of celebrity culture online.
The Journal released the leaked research slideshows on Wednesday, which served as the basis for articles it published earlier this month, saying Facebook knew its apps were harming the mental health of some teenage girls and young users.
The research, titled “Social Comparison on Instagram,” surveyed 100,000 people in March and April 2020 in nine countries, including the United States, Australia and Brazil.
Facebook spokesperson Kevin McAlister said survey respondents were not asked to name specific accounts, but researchers found celebrity accounts were “some of the most frequently viewed accounts for people who told us they experienced varying degrees of negative social comparison on Instagram, “based on internal company data.
He noted that the results made sense as the celebrities listed each have over 30 million followers.
Facebook researchers did not investigate whether users’ exposure to these celebrity accounts resulted in negative feelings about themselves.
Singer Ariana Grande and model Kendall Jenner were among the celebrities whose followers felt a more negative social comparison, Facebook researchers found.
Facebook researchers noted in the slides that the company may partner with stars on campaigns to reduce negative comparisons.
On the other hand, Instagram accounts belonging to “The Ellen Show,” which is hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, American actor Will Smith and Brazilian footballer Neymar had followers who felt “less of a negative comparison,” according to the search slide show.
The results are notable given that Instagram contributed to the rise of social media influencers and made an effort to recruit celebrities for the app in its early days.
Actor Ashton Kutcher was a star who helped Instagram gain credibility with other celebrities and helped introduce the company to Grande, according to an anecdote reported in the book “No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram.”
The company’s partnerships team is also working with celebrities, musicians and other public figures to improve their presence on Instagram, according to the LinkedIn bios of some employees.
Facebook researchers found that seeing more celebrity content in the Instagram feed was associated with a more negative comparison.
Almost half of the content people see on Instagram comes from celebrities, the research has shown.