Instagram has managed to stay in the headlines in one way or the other for the past couple of months and not always for the best reasons.
Coming fresh off of the controversy wherein it was revealed that Facebook’s division knew its platform was potentially harmful to one of its key cohorts – namely, teenage girls – Instagram’s boss just compared the utility of social media to that of the automobile noting that “car accidents” do happen but they don’t stop us from driving.
Comparing social media usage to driving a car, let alone to the advances modern transportation has enabled in our world, is a big oof moment and, again, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The following comment was picked up by Mashable and brought to our attention by PetaPixel and was said by Mosseri on The Recode podcast: “We know that more people die than would otherwise because of car accidents, but by and large cars create way more value in the world than they destroy. And I think social media is similar.”
Many have highlighted the fact that the automobile industry and the use of cars is heavily regulated whereas social media has largely resisted any moves in that direction despite government efforts in that respect.
In a blog post discussing the impact of social media, Mosseri writes:
“The question on many people’s minds is if social media is good or bad for people. The research on this is mixed; it can be both. At Instagram, we look at the benefits and the risks of what we do.”
But comparing social media to cars was just a stretch too far for many. And, even though we’ve covered stories in the past about social media tragedies, it’s hard to argue that you need a license to use a platform like Instagram or anything of the sort. Still, there doesn’t seem to be a silver bullet that would solve the issue of people misusing social media one way or the other and we expect that debate will only grow with time rather than wane.
Of course, the real question for platforms like Instagram and its parent company Facebook is the extent to which they can achieve self-regulation before the authorities step in and start making the rules for them. If the recent Wall Street Journal revelation about internal reporting at Facebook about the impact of Instagram on certain demographics is any indicator, that could be sooner rather than later.
What do you think of the recent Instagram scandal? Is social media inherently dangerous? Let us know your thoughts on social media as a force in society in the comments below.
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