The 21st Century Digital Playground: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Teens on Social Media

Available for Interviews: Dr. Hope Umansky

Dr. Hope Umansky is an American Culture College Professor with a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

A continuation of the Facebook/Instagram story and the internal conspiracy where workers concerned cannot speak out. American Culture professor can talk about the biggest threat—our female teenagers—and where this might be taking us as a country.

What Dr. Hope can say in an interview in the
Continuation of the Facebook/Instagram Story:

Even as Instagram was heralded as one of Facebook’s crown jewels, it turned to extraordinary spending measures to get the attention of teenagers. It particularly emphasized a category called “early high school,” which it classified as 13-to 15-year-olds. Targeting such a vulnerable population is in itself problematic, but now that the whistle has been blown in Congress, what can be done?

    • There exists this “toxic brew” with the pandemic, with kids having more time on their hands and parents letting many stopgaps go because of their own stress levels. “Teen time spent” increased to an average of three to four hours a day in the United States.”
    • People seem unwilling to log off or take a stand that there are no clear plans on changing the algorithm which continuously hurts girls. Within 3-4 clicks for healthy eating, girls end up in pro-anorexia groups.
    • Reports state that IG/FB are most interested in keeping their “pipeline” of young vulnerable teen girls engaged as this is their biggest moneymaker. Instagram began concentrating on the “teen time spent” data point. 
    • According to internal documents, Instagram struggles with fears of losing its ‘pipeline’: young users. The app, hailed as Facebook’s growth engine, has privately wrestled with retaining and engaging teenagers.
    • “If we lose the teen foothold in the U.S. we lose the pipeline,” read a strategy memo, from last October, that laid out a marketing plan for this year. So they over target one small niche—teenage girls to their detriment. Despite Hougin’s testimony it seems to be dust in the wind.
    • There is a conspiracy inside FB/IG. Concerns over teenage users have recently deepened among Instagram’s executives, including Adam Mosseri, the head of the app, said five current and former employees, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
    • As recently as 2018, Zuckerberg felt that losing teenage girls’ engagement was an “existential threat.” What is the cost of this business model? We await action from Congress since hearing from the second whistleblower, while FB/IG has been gaslighting all efforts at regulations.  
    • What FB/IG has been doing is playing mind control and using AI psychological research on teens and people, without consent or care for the consequences. With the acceleration of bots and AI managing the algorithms, FB & IG have an obligation to society which they have failed.
    • We are seeing non-controlled, no IRB, and no informed consent trials on how humans respond to content that is inciting and provocative. Measuring people’s responses to divisive and threatening content, without caring for the negative research outcomes, has proven to hurt the mental health of not only teenagers but millions of people engaging in social media. It is a parasitic business model putting profit over social good.

What sacrifices are we willing to make for the mental health of teens and adults, to stabilize and unify political discourse, and take a stand on the antidemocratic divisiveness that FB sows? Haugen’s accusation, and FB’s growing profits and market cap, demonstrate that January 6th is the perfect example of how FB’s pathology becomes a systemic pathology that challenges US democracy. How can we protect our country and our most vulnerable youth in the 21st-century digital playground? We’re not talking about skinned knees anymore.


Interview: Dr. Hope Umansky

Dr. Hope Umansky, a.k.a. Dr. Hope, is an American Culture College Professor and an author on educational reform, equity, inclusion, social justice & American culture. Her column, Dr. Hope On Point represents the intersection of historical context and popular culture, with an emphasis on the complex human experience.

Hope Umansky, PhD, offers a unique psychology-based perspective on the questions and events that weigh heavy on our hearts and minds.

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

Leave a Reply