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The Facebook group attracted over 2,500 comments, some of which asked for more photos of naked or scantily clad servicewomen.REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Some features in Facebook were designed to keep users hooked on the platform which may harm children and adolescents, senior Facebook insiders admitted in a BBC Panorama programme.

The social networking giant is very much aware of the negative effects of addictive technology, according to Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook platform manager, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday. "There was definitely an awareness of the fact that the product was habit-forming and addictive," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Facebook's founding president, Sean Parker, earlier said the company was "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology" and that the company set out to consume as much user time as possible.

In response to Parker's allegation that Facebook had effectively sought to hook people from the outset, senior Facebook official Ime Archibong told the BBC it was still looking into the issue.

Leah Pearlman, co-inventor of Facebook's Like button, said she had tried to stop using Facebook after leaving the company as she had begun basing her sense of self-worth on the number of "likes" she had.

The tech insiders also expressed alarm at the way younger children are now being targeted with the launch of Facebook Messenger designed for children under 13. The Messenger Kids app was launched in the US last year. In June this year, Facebook introduced the video calling and messaging app to families in Canada and Peru.

Several studies have flagged links between overuse of social media and mental health issues such as depression and loneliness.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at F8 conference
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at F8 conferenceFacebook Newsroom

The revelations come at a time when the social media giant is struggling to clean its image following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, that led to investigations against the company's data sharing practices globally. US investigators went on to find that the company was illegally sharing data with Chinese firms, causing further headaches for CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

While advertising remains core to Facebook's business model, the company has of late begun to explore the subscription-service model in collaboration with groups on the platform.