Fb’s Instagram boss is crushed up for evaluating Instagram to vehicles


Adam Mosseri, Facebook

Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

Adam Mosseri, the head of Facebook’s Instagram service, was heavily criticized Thursday after comparing the value of social networks to society with that of cars.

“We know that more people die from car accidents than usual, but by and large, cars create a lot more value in the world than they destroy,” Mosseri said on Recode Media’s podcast on Wednesday. “And I think social media is similar.”

The comments come after a series of Wall Street Journal reports this week based on internal Facebook files. A report from the series on Tuesday revealed that Facebook has repeatedly found that its Instagram app is harmful to a number of teenagers. The results included an internal presentation that said 32% of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, they felt even worse on Instagram.

According to the report, US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been demanding responses from Facebook about how its services affect the mental health of teenagers and children. Some urged the company to abandon its plans to launch a children’s version of Instagram.

Mosseri’s comparison of Instagram to cars came after podcast host Peter Kafka asked management whether the service should be stopped or restricted if there is a chance it could really harm people, just as cigarettes can harm people.

“Absolutely not, and I really disagree with the comparison to drugs or cigarettes, which have very limited, if any, benefits,” Mosseri said. “Anything used on a large scale will have positive and negative results. Cars have positive and negative results.”

Numerous Twitter users criticized Mosseri for the comparison and pointed out that, unlike social media, the automotive industry is heavily regulated. Among those critics was former Facebook executive Brian Boland.

“We also have regulations and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for cars. Maybe @mosseri should read Unsafe At Any Speed?” Boland tweeted.

Kafka asked about the regulation of cars, to which Mosseri replied that he believes social media regulation is needed.

“We think you have to be careful because regulation can cause more problems,” Mosseri said on the podcast. “But I think we are an industry that is big enough to be important and we have to develop it further.”

Mosseri went on the defensive after the wave of criticism on Twitter, calling the auto analogy “less than perfect,” but said Facebook executives believe that social media that connects people does more good than bad.

“The headline culture – to which, I know, the social media contributed – is exhausting,” said Mosseri on Thursday morning in his tweet series.