- Instagram said early Tuesday that it was rolling out several updates aimed at protecting teens.
- The changes were announced a day before Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri appeared before Congress.
- Mosseri is due to testify Wednesday about how the service affects the mental health of teens and children.
Instagram said early Tuesday that it was rolling out a number of new features to the app in an effort to improve teen safety, such as parental controls and the option to prevent people from tagging or mentioning teens.
The changes come a day before Instagram chief executive Adam Mosseri testified before Congress for the first time. Mosseri’s appearance follows blazing reports that showed Facebook, now Meta and Instagram are aware of the harm caused to their apps and services, including teen mental health.
An internal Facebook presentation first reported by wall street journal said that, among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of US users discovered the issue on Instagram. The reports were based on thousands of pages of internal documents provided by former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen. According to leaked internal documents, more than 40% of Instagram users are 22 and younger, and Instagram has since shelved plans to make a special version of the app for kids.
Mosseri could point to some new features for lawmakers defending his company’s work.
For example, Instagram will block users from tagging or mentioning teens who don’t follow them. The company said it will also begin recommending other topics if a teen spends too much time on a specific interest. It will also release tools for parents and guardians next year that will let parents see and limit how much time their teens spend on Instagram and let parents know if a teen reports another user. will inform.
Instagram said another feature, called “Take a Break,” will ask users to stop using Instagram and will remind users to take more breaks. Instagram said the feature, which needs to be turned on first, will roll out to all users in the US, Canada and Australia on Wednesday and by early next year.
“Following the blustery reports about Instagram’s toxic effects, we’d like to hear directly from the company’s leadership about why it uses powerful algorithms that push toxic content down the rabbit hole to take kids to dark places.” Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement to Businesshala earlier.