Facebook will publish two internal slide decks detailing its research into how Instagram affects teens’ mental health sometime “in the next few days.” Speaking at an hosted by The Atlantic, the company’s policy chief Nick Clegg said the company would release the data to Congress before making it available to the public.
“We're just making sure that all the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted so that we can release it both to Congress and then to the public in the next few days," Clegg said of the slides, some of which have already been made public. His comments more than 10 days after The Wall Street Journal an investigation into how Instagram affects the teens who use it. Citing internal research conducted by Facebook, The Journal wrote that “Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage” of teens, particularly teenage girls.
The investigation prompted immediate pushback from lawmakers, many of whom were already wary of Facebook’s handling of child safety, and its plans to build a version of its service for children under 13. On Monday, Instagram said it would that work in order to create more “parental supervision tools.” Members of Congress responded saying they want the company the project entirely. Facebook’s head of safety is scheduled to testify at a Senate Commerce Committee on the subject Thursday.
Now, Facebook seems to be hoping that releasing more of its underlying research could help address concerns from lawmakers and others. In a separate statement Sunday, the company’s top researcher suggested that The Wall Street Journal had mischaracterized its research. Clegg went a step further Monday, saying that the reporting based on documents “leaked by someone who clearly feels they have some points to make.”
“If you read the decks, and then compare it with some of the assertions that, you know, Instagram is toxic for all teens and so on, I don't think any reasonable person … would say that the research sustains that claim,” Clegg said. “When the dust settles people will see that we're just sincerely trying to kind of — like external researchers — are trying to work out what the complex relationship is between individuals, given their own individual circumstances, and their lives and their use of social media.”
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the company would release “two decks” that were central to The Journal report, but didn’t elaborate on the timing of the release.
But the decks alone are unlikely to quiet Facebook’s critics. For one, Facebook’s own rebuttal of The Wall Street Journal reporting appears the significance of its own research. “This research, some of which relied on input from only 40 teens, was designed to inform internal conversations about teens’ most negative perceptions of Instagram,” Facebook VP Pratiti Raychoudhury wrote. “It did not measure causal relationships between Instagram and real-world issues.”
It also raises questions about how Facebook will present the data it does make public. Last month, the company released on “widely viewed content” on its platform. The report was meant to rebuff criticism that News Feed favors polarizing content. But researchers outside the company quickly poked holes in the report, and said it was emblematic of Facebook’s larger transparency issues, particularly when it comes to working with .
Which is why it’s notable that Clegg would invoke “external researchers” in his defense of the company. If Instagram isn’t actually harmful to most teens, as the company is claiming, then researchers not on Facebook’s payroll may be positioned to credibly make that point. Yet researchers say the company has made data increasingly difficult to access. And in some cases, the company has actively blocked outsiders from studying its platform, like when it recently disabled the personal Facebook accounts of researchers at New York University and then provided explanations about its reasons for doing so, according to the FTC. (Incidentally, the researcher at the center of that controversy is testifying in a separate Congressional this week.)
They may seem like unrelated issues. But if Facebook had better relationships with researchers outside the company, and made more of its own findings public it might be better able to head off internal critics who “have some points to make.”
One week after coming to with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), Twitch has . In partnering with the record label, a first for the Amazon-owned platform, the company says Warner Music will launch dedicated channels for some of its artists, including the likes of Bella Poarch and Saweetie. The label will also create a standalone channel that will air original programming from its IMGN production house.
Twitch has made a similar deal with Warner Music Group (WMG) to what they made last week with the NMPA.
But if you’re a content creator on Twitch, those are secondary to the other part of the deal. Much like its pact with the NMPA, this isn’t a licensing agreement; creators can’t include music from WMG artists in their streams. As part of the agreement, WMG has agreed to use the new process Twitch recently put in place to allow rights holders to report content. In an email last week to creators, the company said the new system is more forgiving towards individuals who may have inadvertently played music they weren’t authorized to use.
Some 23 years after its original run, Babylon 5 is making its way back to TV. According to Variety, The CW has ordered a reboot of the seminal sci-fi series. What’s more, original creator J. Michael Straczynski is attached to the project.
That’s good news because Straczynski penned 92 of the 110 episodes that make up Babylon 5. At the moment, there are relatively few details on the production, but what we do know is that it’s being billed as a “from-the-ground-up reboot.” None of the original actors from the series, including Bruce Boxleitner, are currently attached to the project, but that may change. With its sometimes dated visuals, it can be hard to see what makes Babylon 5 so special. However, in many ways, it was ahead of its time. It told a serialized story long before shows like The Wire popularized the format.