Academics urge Zuckerberg for better research on mental health effects of Facebook

The letter added that the studies are misguided and are “doomed to fail” in their present state.   | Photo Credit: AFP

A coalition of academics from universities around the world have penned an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to establish better research practices to impact of Facebook’s apps on mental health of children and adolescents.

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The coalition, led by the Oxford Internet Institute, wrote in the letter it believes that the way Meta is studying the mental health of youth falls short of basic standards in mental health science. It added that the studies are misguided and are “doomed to fail” in their present state.

The development comes as Meta, formerly Facebook, continues to be embroiled in a series of controversies involving the company’s lack of transparency on its effect on teen mental health and its focus on profits at the cost of spreading misinformation.

Both Zuckerberg and Meta have an ethical and moral obligation to align their internal research on children and adolescents with established standards for evidence in mental health science, according to the letter.

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“This is frustrating, because if the right scientific and ethical tools were in place, data collected by Meta could inform how we understand digital technology use and its influence on mental health in unprecedented ways,” the letter added.

The coalition also suggested ways for the company to implement better research and transparency. This includes committing to a gold standard on transparency on all past, present and future research on child mental health, and sharing of data collected to global studies of child and adolescent mental health.

The academics also recommended establishing an independent oversight trust to vet the risks and benefits of social media on children and adolescents.

“Understanding and supporting child and adolescent mental health in the digital age is a bigger challenge than any one person, company, or team can tackle. We believe your platforms have the potential to play an important role in impacting billions of young people for the common good,” the letter said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 1:34:26 PM |

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