Asserting the recipients of Instagram analysis awards on security and group well being

At Meta, we conduct our own research and consult outside experts and research to understand how we can improve our products and policies to better serve our community. In recent years we have funded outside researchers around the world for studies on topics such as Wellbeing and polarization that can influence the experiences of users on our platforms.

In May 2021, Instagram launched a call for proposals (RFP) focused on research on safety and community health, particularly in relation to young people and underserved communities. Today we announce the winners of these awards.

“It’s important for us to work with outside researchers to find ways we can improve Instagram’s policies and products. This round of research recipients will address critical issues such as helping trans people through online gender verification and reducing harassment among young people, ”said Kristin Hendrix, Director of Instagram Research.

In particular, we were interested in research proposals that would help us (1) better understand equity and fairness issues in our community, (2) develop better guidelines, (3) evaluate possible improvements to protect our younger community, or (4) better understand the mechanisms (e.g. social support, social comparison) through which Instagram use could affect the people who use our service.

Applications were initially considered by members of our in-house research team with varying levels of expertise based on a wide range of criteria including expected impact, plan for conducting the research, and more. The finalists were reviewed and the winners were ultimately selected by executives from Meta’s research organization.

The RFP attracted more than 200 proposals from 172 universities and institutions around the world. The winners and their research proposals are listed below. The work of all applicants is vital and we thank everyone who applied. We look forward to sharing future RFPs in the future.

Research Award Winner

Unless otherwise noted, lead investigators are listed first.

Chatbots as actors of social support (CASSA)
Celeste Campos-Castillo, Linnea I. Laestadius (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)

“We hope that engaging diverse voices from communities that have experienced structural racism will help advance equity in designing technology-driven mental health interventions like this chatbot.” – Campos-Castillo and Laestadius

Improving trans * people’s experience with gender affirmation on Instagram
Denton Callander, Teddy Cook (University of New South Wales)

“Instagram and other social media are really important social spaces for many trans people, that’s why we’re so excited to start the #TransIsBeautiful project. This cutting edge social research will help us learn how to maximize visual social media as a safe, healthy, and affirmative space for trans people of all genders in Australia and around the world. ”- Cook, #TransIsBeautiful Co-Lead Investigator, Manager of Trans Health Equity at ACON and Vice President of the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health

Improving water safety at risky Instagram hotspots through targeted information
Amy Peden, Robert Brander, William Koon (University of New South Wales)

“The hunt for the perfect selfie can lead to a temporary loss of concentration and self-confidence, which can lead to injury and death. Drowning is the leading cause of death from selfies in many scenic locations near water or on ledges or cliffs. We’re excited to be working with Instagram to develop, implement and evaluate the best way to get information about water safety for people who have hashtagged or tagged in known risky locations, starting from worrying websites in Australia and California in the US. This research has the power to save lives and we are very excited to begin. ”- Peden

Reduction of cyberbullying experiences of younger users on Instagram
Jorge Goncalves, Louise La Sala, Senuri Wijenayake, Simon D’Alfonso (University of Melbourne)

“Our aim is to examine the occurrence of cyberbullying from a new social-psychological perspective in order to better understand the reasons for this behavior. We hope that the results of our work will expand Instagram’s recent efforts to provide a safer environment for its young users by discovering new approaches to mitigate bad experiences on the platform. ”- Goncalves

For the proactive moderation of coordinated harassment on Instagram
Gianluca Stringhini, Chen Ling (Boston University)

“Online harassment against social media users doesn’t come out of the blue, but is often the result of coordinating hateful communities who choose their targets and coordinate hateful attacks against them. In this project, we want to understand what type of Instagram content often experiences coordinated harassment with the aim of improving content moderation. Identifying content that is likely to be harassed can help human moderators focus their efforts and improve the safety of Instagram users. ”- Stringhini

Using IG to Increase Physical Activity and Support BIPOC Students
Olivia Johnson, Desmond Delk (University of Houston)

“From improving mental and physical health to improving our emotional wellbeing, the benefits of daily physical activity are limitless. However, many people do not meet the recommendations for daily physical activity. Hence, we examine the impact of IG social support communities on physical fitness compliance for BIPOC college women. ”- Johnson and Delk


#LesbiansofInstagram: Exploring the role of Instagram in queer women’s lives
Stefanie Duguay (Concordia University)

Cancer Fraud Victims on Instagram: Learning from Community Reactions
Lisbeth Klastrup (IT University of Copenhagen)

Effect of likes on social comparison and body image of different adolescent girls
Jessica Faye Saunders, Asia Eaton (Clark University)

Imagine Better Bodies: Examining Teenagers’ Tales of Image Editing
Ysabel Gerrard, Ruth Holliday (University of Sheffield)

Influence of Instagram on Teenage Choice and Equity in Different Communities
Darcy A. Freedman, Callie Ogland-Hand, Nora L. Nock (Fall Western Reserve University)

Sharing family narratives, including best practices from people with disabilities
Renee Barnes, Gerard Goggin, Katie Ellis, Tama Leaver (University of the Sunshine Coast)

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