Instagram is rolling out a slew of new features, including one that urges users to take a break and others designed to protect kids, the company announced Tuesday — one day before CEO Adam Mosseri is slated to testify before lawmakers.
Mosseri said in a blog post Tuesday that the social media giant will begin “taking a stricter approach to what we recommend to teens on the app, we’ll stop people from tagging or mentioning teens that don’t follow them [and] we’ll be nudging teens towards different topics if they’ve been dwelling on one topic for a long time.”
Instagram will also begin letting parents and guardians see how much time their teens spend on Instagram and set time limits.
The so-called time-a-break feature will launch immediately in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and will roll out globally by early next year, Mosseri said.
It’s an opt-in system, meaning users will have to enable the notifications.
And starting in January, Instagram will allow users to wipe their profiles clean all at once, bulk deleting their own content, including photos, videos, likes and comments, Mosseri added.
The new safety features come just one day before Mosseri is scheduled to testify before lawmakers for the first time ever, appearing before the Senate’s consumer protection subcommittee to answer questions about the app’s impact on young users.
Mosseri’s appearance on Capitol Hill and the new safety features come after a slew of leaks from former Facebook employee Frances Haugen purported to show that Instagram and its parent company, now called Meta, found through internal research that it was harming young people in various ways.
“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” internal researchers at the company wrote in a March 2020 presentation.
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” another slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues, read.
“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
Beyond that, the company’s researchers also found that Instagram serves up photos and videos of girls with anorexia and other eating disorders to teens who are also afflicted by such illnesses, the leaks showed.
In his first appearance before Congress, Mosseri is likely to be hammered by politicians on both sides of the aisle over the recent revelations.
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