Instagram says it will distance teens from harmful content and introduce a “break break” feature as part of the company’s latest efforts to address revelations about the impact of Facebook products on mental health.
The plans come less than a week after whistleblower Frances Haugen accused Facebook of putting a security advantage in US Senate testimony.
Haugen leaked internal Facebook studies showing that Instagram can worsen body image issues, eating disorders and other mental health problems — especially when users are teenage girls. She said the company’s algorithms can engage teens by serving them up intoxicating photos and videos – even if such content exacerbates mental health problems.
Facebook’s new features appear to be an attempt to address such criticism.
“We’re going to introduce something that I think will make a big difference, where our systems see that a teen is watching the same content over and over – and it’s content that isn’t conducive to their well-being. Maybe — we’ll inspire them to look at other content,” Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.
Facebook didn’t say how it would determine which content isn’t “conducive” to a teen’s well-being — and how it would differentiate, such as a girl watching a gymnastics video versus a girl watching extreme weight loss clips.
Clegg said the company will also introduce tools for parents to monitor teens’ Instagram usage, as well as a feature called “Break Break.”
“We would encourage teens to simply take a break from using Instagram,” Clegg said. He also did not elaborate on how the feature would work. Facebook did not return a request to the post for more information about the new features.
Critics have slammed Facebook for holding onto internal research showing that publicly minimizing the effects of the Instagram app can hurt teens, but Clegg and other Facebook executives have argued that the first Researching the company in place shows it cares about security.
He said the research helps the company develop new features like tips to “nudge” and “take a break.”
CNN host Dana Bash pointed out that the research leaked by Haugen was published internally on Facebook two years ago — and asked why the company waited until Haugen to make changes to Instagram’s effects on teen mental health. attracted attention.
Clegg countered that the company had already made other changes based on research. He did not say when the new features would go into effect.
“Those are our plans for the future,” Clegg said.
The company told The Verge that “nudge,” “take a break” and parental monitoring features “are not being tested yet, but will be soon.”
Announcing in a September blog post that Facebook was “pausing” plans to develop a version of Instagram for kids, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said the company was “exploring” ideas.
“We’re exploring two new ideas: encouraging people to look to other topics if they’re dwelling on content that may contribute to negative social comparisons, and a feature called temporarily “a pause.” Take a call, where people can pause their account and take a moment to consider whether the time they’re spending is worthwhile,” Mosseri wrote.