September 1, 2022 – Six in 10 respondents who took part in a survey confirmed that the content they found disturbing or triggering on social media was not removed by the platform despite being reported, according to a new study.
The report, titled Social Media in a Mental Health Dismissive Society, sheds light on the Big Tech’s negligence towards young users in a country like Pakistan, where mental health is widely disregarded and draconian regulations impede the space for a healthy dialogue with the global digital community.
The study is based on the 2021 Facebook Papers – a cache of internal documents – leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen, who exposed the questionable inner workings at Facebook’s parent company, Meta. The revelations ranged from the company’s disregard towards the well-being of teenagers on Instagram to discriminatory budget allocation for non-English-speaking markets to classify and counter hate speech, failing to curb the resultant real-world violence in many South Asian countries.
Social Media in a Mental Health Dismissive Society localises these revelations by interviewing students, parents of young children, and mental health experts. It highlights the lack of conversations surrounding mental health at both homes and educational institutions in the face of evolving tech and the increasing accessibility to and reliance on digital resources.
The study documents the impact of harmful content such as unrealistic beauty standards promoted by social media platforms and exposure to violence, which has already been flagged and heavily scrutinised in the Global North, on the mental health of young audiences online in Pakistan.
It reiterates the need for viewing the internet as an agent of positive change in society and that regulations that focus on controlling citizens’ rights and surveilling their online presence will only isolate the country from the global digital community.
Link to publication: Social Media in a Mental Health Dismissive Society
About Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD)
Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) is a Pakistan-based not-for-profit focused towards defending digital rights, freedom of expression, media, Internet, and communications in Pakistan, and ensuring that the media and public have the tools and environment to exercise their fundamental rights. Their work includes policy research, training, legal aid and support, and public interest litigation. Digital Rights Monitor (DRM) is also an initiative of MMfD.