How safe are our online platforms? Let’s open the door for social media researchers

Is Instagram fueling eating disorders in teenagers? Does TikTok harm your mental health? Are Facebook groups encouraging people to take part in offline violence? The answer is… we don’t know for sure. And that’s a serious problem.

That’s precisely why we need policymakers to protect independent researchers’ ability to study platforms.

Just last year, the revelations of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen shed light on the harmful link between teenage girls’ mental health and their Instagram use. But many more harms lie beneath the surface.

We demand US lawmakers take action and ensure that researchers are able to study these platforms in the public interest. Otherwise, researchers will continue to face retribution and legal obstacles for trying to expose harms associated with social media platforms.

The reality is that all of our unanswered questions will remain relevant—beyond this year to the next, and beyond our generation to the next. But by creating an environment where independent research can flourish, we will be closer to the kinds of answers that can fix what has been broken by moving too fast.

To hear more from the experts and researchers doing this work, watch our short documentary here.

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