According to internal research obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook knows that Instagram can be toxic and harmful for teen girls. Instagram has responded that these findings, while true, only focus on the negative. In a detailed report, The Wall Street Journal found that not only is Instagram harmful to young girls, its executives have struggled to find a way to reduce that harm while also keeping people on the platform. Instagram has tried multiple ways to reduce issues such as hiding \u201clike\u201d counts \u2014 a feature that was rolled out but made optional. The main issue with toxicity is linked to social pressure and bullying that young girls feel from using the social network, issues that are intrinsically tied to the popularity contest that is Instagram. Fixing the problems exacerbated by Instagram while also keeping it engaging seem to be goals that are at odds, and are perhaps unreconcilable. The full report reads like a damning conclusion that has been theorized by outside groups but given more credence since now it is coming from inside the company. In response, Instagram published a statement that acknowledges the findings encompassed in the Wall Street Journal report, but says they are only part of the full picture. \u201cWhile the story focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light, we stand by this research,\u201d Instagram\u2019s Head of Public Policy Karina Newton writes. \u201cIt demonstrates our commitment to understanding complex and difficult issues young people may struggle with, and informs all the work we do to help those experiencing these issues.\u201d Instagram says that the core of the issue is not whether Instagram is good or bad for people, but whether social media in general is. The company says that its research on this is mixed and that it can be both. \u201cAt Instagram, we look at the benefits and the risks of what we do. We\u2019re proud that our app can give voice to those who have been marginalized, that it can help friends and families stay connected from all corners of the world, that it can prompt societal change; but we also know it can be a place where people have negative experiences, as the Journal called out,\u201d Newton continues. \u201cOur job is to make sure people feel good about the experience they have on Instagram, and achieving that is something we care a great deal about.\u201d The social media company defended itself by saying it invests in this kind of research and consults with leading experts and researchers to help it see beyond its own work. Unfortunately, both its research and those of third parties continue to present a see-saw of results. On the one hand, Instagram cites a Pew Internet study in the United States that shows 81% of teens said that social media makes them feel more connected to their friends, while 26% reported social media makes them feel worse about their lives. On the other, the Wall Street Journal\u2019s publication of Instagram\u2019s research shows it can be incredibly harmful. It should be noted that Newton does not cite Facebook\u2019s own internal research in its detailed response to the Wall Street Journal story, but rather links to a host of others. \u201cMany said Instagram makes things better or has no effect, but some, particularly those who were already feeling down, said Instagram may make things worse. In the research world, this isn\u2019t surprising or unexpected,\u201d Newton argues. \u201cIssues like negative social comparison and anxiety exist in the world, so they\u2019re going to exist on social media too. That doesn\u2019t change the fact that we take these findings seriously, and we set up a specific effort to respond to this research and change Instagram for the better.\u201d Instagram says it has done extensive work around making Instagram a supportive place and is increasingly focused on addressing negative social comparisons and negative body image issues. It\u2019s not clear if Instagram\u2019s dedication or work has resulted with any solutions to this problem, however. Many of the teens that were interviewed for the Wall Street Journal\u2019s story said they didn\u2019t want Instagram to disappear, but that they were skeptical that Facebook has tried hard enough to make the platform less toxic. Based on Instagram\u2019s response, it might not be that they haven\u2019t tried, but that the company hasn\u2019t found a solution that keeps the app engaging while also making the situation better for those it harms. Instagram\u2019s full response can be read on its website. Image credits: All photos licensed via Depositphotos.