Instagram, ahead of US Senate hearing, tightens youth protections

The Instagram app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: The Instagram app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

December 7, 2021

By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) – Instagram said on Tuesday it would be stricter about the types of content it recommends to teenagers in the photo-sharing app and would direct them to different areas if they focused on a topic for a long time.

In a blog post, the social media service announced a bunch of changes for teen users. Instagram head Adam Mosseri will testify during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday on protecting children online.

Instagram and its parent company Meta Platforms Inc, formerly Facebook, have come under close scrutiny for ways their services can cause issues around mental health, body image and safety. online by young users.

In the post, Mosseri also said Instagram has turned off the ability for people to tag or mention teens who don’t follow them on the app. He said that starting January, teen Instagrammers will be able to bulk delete their content as well as previous likes and comments.

He said Instagram is exploring controls to limit sensitive or potentially harmful material suggested to teenagers through search functionality, hashtags, Short Form Video Stories and the ‘Recommended Accounts’ feature, as well as on the curated ‘Discover’ page.

The blog also said on Tuesday that Instagram was rolling out a ‘Take a break’ feature in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, reminding people to pause the app briefly after using it for a period of time. certain time. .

They said next March, Instagram will roll out the first tools for parents and guardians to see how much time their teens are spending on the app and set time limits.

An Instagram spokesperson said they will continue to pause plans for a children’s version of Instagram. Instagram suspended plans for the project in September, amid growing opposition to the project.

The move follows a Wall Street Journal report that said internal documents leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen showed the company knew Instagram could have harmful effects on mental health for users. with teenage girls, such as their views on body image. Facebook said the leaked documents were used to paint a misleading picture of the company’s work.

State attorneys general and lawmakers have also raised concerns about the child-focused app.

Last month, a bipartisan coalition of US state attorneys general said it had opened an investigation into Facebook for advertising Instagram to children despite the potential harm.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by David Gregorio) Instagram, ahead of US Senate hearing, tightens youth protections

Bobby Allyn

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