Fault Lines

A Toxic Feed: Social media and teen mental health

Fault Lines investigates whether social media exacerbates America’s youth mental health crisis.

In 2021, a whistleblower inside Facebook disclosed a trove of documents showing that the company had studied its own platforms’ toxic effects on teen girls.

The revelations struck a chord with Hillary Hamilton, a mother in Colorado who spent more than a year investigating whether social media may have contributed to her daughter’s death by suicide in 2020.

For years, researchers have linked eating disorders, body image issues, and other mental health problems with the business model powering social media. Companies use computer algorithms to hook users into spending ever more time on their platforms, and then use that data to sell advertisements. Now Hamilton and young people themselves are calling for greater regulation of the industry.

Fault Lines examines the effect of social media on the mental health of teenagers.