The truth behind Facebook and Instagram
Toxic traits have spread, and challenge our perceptions of what’s really attainable
Facebook is the same dog with the same old tricks.
Whistleblower Frances Haugen has called out Facebook for being a platform that spreads misinformation, violence, and hate – and we should not be surprised. Facebook has had decreasing popularity in recent years with competitor social media apps such as Snapchat and TikTok. Its one saving grace was purchasing Instagram in 2012, which has attracted a younger audience. Haugen targeted Facebook executives for knowing the effects that Instagram has on young users.
During Haugen’s testimony, she spoke about how Instagram affects teenage girls’ self-image and self-confidence. Constant exposure to incredibly beautiful users has caused young women to constantly compare themselves to influencers. Social media degrading users’ self-confidence is by no means a new issue, and it is frustrating to see it be presented as such. The real issue we should be looking at is how largely social media has evolved its use of body politics to sell items online.
Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has had quite the history of misogyny towards women dating all the way back to his college dorm room at Harvard where he originally created a rating system of all the female students present on campus. His system compared the women side-by-side to see who was the most attractive. This put many of the students in vulnerable positions which resulted in resentment towards one another. The constant comparison between women would have them looking to one-up each other because their insecurities laid in the hands of whoever deemed them to be the most attractive. Instagram currently has this constant comparison of who looks the best and the worst among its users. Alas, you can be one of the hottest too with help from some of the products that the most attractive use. Instagram preys on a marginal group of users who want influencer status, and coerces them in to buying products that benefit the company.
Fit Instagram models are a prime example of body politics. Lots of fitness Instagram influencers promote their lifestyle through videos and posed pictures to make their profile marketable to the public. They are often brand ambassadors that try to sell you protein powders and gym sets that will help get you fit. It’s like you need to buy their commodities to be a part of the fit community. Fitness social media has taken a left turn from what they previously marketed. Before, being thin meant looking your best. Marketable items were sold for the purpose of losing fat and becoming your skinniest and most beautiful self. Guilt tactics of eating less and exercising more were used to attract customers to different products. Many customers quit buying into weight loss supplements because they realized that fat-shaming their customers would turn them away. The fitness community noticed that they could not be mean to people to get them to buy their products, and services were rebranded: be your fittest self.
Instagram is gradually turning into an online shopping service rather than a social media sharing platform. Instagram now has its own shop feature that connects the products from the profiles to a URL where you can purchase them. As far as Facebook’s denial that social media is degrading youths’ mental health, I don’t believe it for a second. They will also emphasize profits over protection, because without the profits they will become irrelevant.