Facebook whistleblower reveals mental health risks for social media

Video game addiction, screen dependency and intimacy disorders can all stem from spending too much time online. That’s why a former tech worker opened a behavioral addiction treatment facility called ‘Restart on the East Side’ more than a decade ago. 

Health professionals there say the Facebook whistleblower is only scratching the surface.

READ MORE: Facebook products 'harm children, stoke division,' whistleblower testifies

"It is confirmatory for us," said Restart program director and co-founder Cosette Rea. "We have been doing this for over a decade." 

She says some of the whistleblower’s evidence validates why people keep seeking help for social media or video game overuse.

"It does something to our brains," she said. "I think what is the problem is we don’t understand that is happening."

On Tuesday, lawmakers grilled the whistleblower asking questions beyond social media’s impact on mental health. Senator Maria Cantwell wanted to know how Facebook stopped hateful content on the platform. 

Whistleblower Frances Haugen said Facebook told advertisers they were, "Doing everything in our power to make this safer, or we take down all the hate speech when we find it."

"And that was not true," replied Cantwell. 

Haugen said only 3% - 5% of hate content was successfully removed from the site.

Facebook and most every other social media platform can injure our psyche when users are repeatedly exposed to negative content, says Rea. Successful treatment means learning how to live in a connected society without suffocating our ties to people in the real world.

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