According to Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg, Instagram will adopt new methods to steer kids away from hazardous content and encourage them to “take a vacation” from the platform. Clegg made the comments on CNN’s State of the Union broadcast less than a week after Instagram whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress about internal studies showing the app can harm young people’s mental health.
“Where our systems see that a youngster is looking at the same content over and over again, and it’s content that may not be conducive to their well-being, we’ll urge them to look at alternative content,” Clegg said. In addition to postponing plans for an Instagram Kids platform and offering parents optional options to watch their children, he said the firm planned to implement a feature dubbed “taking a break,” which would inspire teens to “just take a break from using Instagram.”
Clegg did not specify a release date for either feature. A Facebook spokesman responded to an email from The Verge seeking more information, saying the features are “not testing yet but will shortly.” According to the spokesman, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri wrote on his blog on September 27th that the firm was “exploring” the features:
Last week, we announced that we’re testing two new ideas: encouraging people to look at other topics if they’re stuck on content that could lead to negative social comparison, and a feature tentatively dubbed “Take a Break,” where people could pause their account and consider whether the time they’re spending is meaningful.
Before a brawl at the US Capitol building on January 6th, CNN host Dana Bash asked Clegg if Facebook’s algorithm enhanced or promoted pro-insurgency opinions. Clegg responded he couldn’t answer the question with a yes or no. Haugen is expected to meet with the committee investigating the attack on January 6th.
“Facebook’s algorithms should be held to account, if necessary, by legislation,” Clegg said, “so that people can square what our systems say they’re meant to do with what really happens.”
Following reports from the Wall Street Journal based on internal papers provided by Haugen, Facebook has been under fire for several weeks.
Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, testified before Congress on Tuesday about the company’s internal study that found Instagram to be hazardous, particularly for underage girls. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, refuted Haugen’s claim, saying it was nonsensical for a firm that relies on ads to promote content that makes people upset in order to generate money.