Over 300 scientists working in the fields of psychology, health, and technology have published an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg. The team demanded from the CEO of Meta to allow scientists to investigate the effects of Facebook and Instagram on child and teen mental health.
In a response to internal documents leaked to the Wall Street Journal by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the team of scientists wrote a demand to Zuckerberg to open the doors of his company to investigators. According to internal research by Meta, three teen girls confessed that using Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies.
The open letter, published Monday, stated that the research leaked by Haugen isn’t a definitive proof that Meta’s platforms can cause harm on teen and child mental health. However, the issue is that Meta is keeping its doors closed on investigators and researchers.
The letter added that according to the limited public information about the research techniques that Meta follows, the company’s internal studies aren’t accurate.
“We have only a fragmented picture of the studies your companies are conducting,” the letter to Zuckerberg says. “We do not believe that the methodologies seen so far meet the high scientific standards required to responsibly investigate the mental health of children and adolescents.”
It continues: “You and your organizations have an ethical and moral obligation to align your internal research on children and adolescents with established standards for evidence in mental health science.”
The letter says Meta can commit to safeguarding teen mental health by introducing “gold standard transparency”. This allows outside researchers to participate in its research, adding that Meta can participate in external studies globally, offering up its data voluntarily.
“Combining Meta Inc. data with large-scale cohort projects will materially advance how we understand implications of the online world for mental health,” the letter says.
The letter concluded by asking Meta to form an independent oversight trust that would study and monitor teens’ and childs’ mental health. The structure of the proposed trust is similar to the Oversight Board model of Meta.
“In place of quasi-judicial rulings the trust would conduct independent scientific oversight,” the letter says.