Facebook whistleblower: Bullying 'follows kids home' from school thanks to Instagram

UK Editor Paul Brand on the former Facebook manager who has made it her mission to expose what she says is the company putting revenue above responsibility

Bullying "follows children home" and goes "into their bedrooms" at night thanks to Instagram, a Facebook whistleblower has said.

Former employee Frances Haugen said that the company's own research showed Instagram, which is owned and run by the tech giant, is more dangerous for young people than other social media apps.

Speaking to a Parliamentary committee today, Ms Haugen said her former employers have the power to make their apps safer for children - but don't.

She claimed it was because young users "are the future" of the platform and "the earlier they get them, the more likely they'll get hooked".

A protester outside Parliament brought an installation of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg surfing a wave of money Credit: PA

The Iowa-born data engineer was speaking to a joint committee for the Draft Online Safety Bill, as part of government plans for social media regulation.

Ms Haugen told lawmakers: “Facebook’s own research says now the bullying follows children home, it goes into their bedrooms.

“The last thing they see at night is someone being cruel to them.

“The first thing they see in the morning is a hateful statement and that is just so much worse", she said.

Frances Haugen (left) gave evidence at Parliament earlier today

The whistleblower, who worked for Facebook for three years, said the firm's own research suggested that Instagram is more dangerous than other social media apps.

Facebook's research found that Instagram promoted social comparison about bodies and people’s lifestyles, which Ms Haugen said ends up "being worse for kids" than apps like TikTok or Snapchat.

Ms Haugen was doubtful when asked whether Instagram could be made safe for children:

“I am deeply worried that it may not be possible to make Instagram safe for 14-year-olds and I sincerely doubt it is possible to make it safe for a 10-year-old,” she said.

The 37-year-old said Facebook should publish what they do to detect whether children under the age of 13 - the minimum age requirement for Instagram - are using the app.

"I guarantee what they’re doing today is not enough...Facebook can guess how old you are with a great deal of precision”, she said.