According to a 2020 report on social media apps environmental impact, scrolling through Instagram news feed was the most impactful function on Instagram, generating approximately 1.55 grams of CO2 equivalent per minute (gCO2e). Viewing and hosting a live on Instagram followed, with CO2 emissions of approximately 0.72 and 0.62 grams per minute, respectively.
Every feature, every usage and every app leave a footprint
Environmental issues have long been raised and addressed, especially when it comes to transport and storage, as these are some of the branches emitting the most carbon. But in recent years, the pollution created by the Internet has become a trending topic. According to professionals, the production of ICT (Internet Communication Technology) devices, their usage and the storage of information on mediums such as data center storages would equal to the world's sixth largest polluting country, if it were one. Thus, determining the carbon impact and energy levels of social media usage could be a first step to fight the problem of pollution. As Instagram's popularity has increased in recent years, allowing for the adoption of new features such as Reels, Lives and Filters on Instagram Stories, it comes with no surprise that the energy consumption and therefore the carbon levels have increased.
TikTok, Reddit and Pinterest as the forerunners of carbon emissions
In terms of the environmental impact, the social network with the most impactful news feed was Tik Tok, emitting about 4.93 grams of CO2 equivalent (gCO2e) per minute. Instagram on the other hand, ranked in fifth place, emitting about 1.91 gCO2e. In the vast world of the Internet, as social media apps are used almost daily and on a mobile phone, most of them are designed to be fast. Other providers of online shopping services have proven to emit more than social networks, with most of e-commerce platforms emitting more than two grams of CO2 equivalent in 2019. Thus, the real danger posed by the invisible forces of digital technology is the underestimated environmental impact in terms of energy consumption and CO2 emissions. As a current topic in the mind of businesses and consumers, a second hand market and sharing economies have gained a high amount of popularity in recent years, remedying to the declining situation, at least a bit.
Carbon impact of Instagram functionalities in 2020
(in grams of CO2 equivalent per minute)
Carbon impact in grams of CO2 equivalent (gCO2e) per minute
The source does not provide an exact survey date. The date provided is the publication date.
The source adds the following information: "The Instagram mobile application (version 148.0.033.121) was measured on an S7 smartphone (Android 8), and the user scenarios (publish a story, publish a picture, scrolling the news feed, hosting a live, and viewing a live video).
To assess the impacts of the mobile in the carbon projection calculations, the source has measured the energy consumption of the user scenario on a real device and in order to integrate the material impact share, the source relied on the theoretical wear rate generated by the user scenario on the battery, the first wearing part of a smartphone. 500 full charge and discharge cycles therefore cause a change of smartphone in the model."
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Greenspector. (July 9, 2020). Carbon impact of Instagram functionalities in 2020 (in grams of CO2 equivalent per minute) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved December 08, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1177040/carbon-emissions-instagram-feature-usage-grams-co2-equivalent-france/
Greenspector. "Carbon impact of Instagram functionalities in 2020 (in grams of CO2 equivalent per minute)." Chart. July 9, 2020. Statista. Accessed December 08, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1177040/carbon-emissions-instagram-feature-usage-grams-co2-equivalent-france/
Greenspector. (2020). Carbon impact of Instagram functionalities in 2020 (in grams of CO2 equivalent per minute). Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: December 08, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1177040/carbon-emissions-instagram-feature-usage-grams-co2-equivalent-france/
Greenspector. "Carbon Impact of Instagram Functionalities in 2020 (in Grams of Co2 Equivalent per Minute)." Statista, Statista Inc., 9 Jul 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1177040/carbon-emissions-instagram-feature-usage-grams-co2-equivalent-france/
Greenspector, Carbon impact of Instagram functionalities in 2020 (in grams of CO2 equivalent per minute) Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1177040/carbon-emissions-instagram-feature-usage-grams-co2-equivalent-france/ (last visited December 08, 2023)
Carbon impact of Instagram functionalities in 2020 (in grams of CO2 equivalent per minute) [Graph], Greenspector, July 9, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1177040/carbon-emissions-instagram-feature-usage-grams-co2-equivalent-france/