Instagram rolls out features to protect young users amid mounting controversies

·2 min read

Instagram announced a slew of updates on Tuesday that aim to protect teens on the app, in an announcement that notably comes one day before Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri is set to testify before lawmakers on social media's impact on young users.

Mosseri announced the new features in a company blog post on Tuesday, which includes launching the "Take a Break" feature in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

"If someone has been scrolling for a certain amount of time, we’ll ask them to take a break from Instagram and suggest that they set reminders to take more breaks in the future," Monserri said. "We’ll also show them expert-backed tips to help them reflect and reset."

PHOTO: Instagram head Adam Mosseri speaks during 2016 TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, Sept. 14, 2016, when he was Vice President of Product Management for Facebook.. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: Instagram head Adam Mosseri speaks during 2016 TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, Sept. 14, 2016, when he was Vice President of Product Management for Facebook.. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters, FILE)

Mosseri said they will also be taking a stricter approach to what they recommend to teens on the app via search,explore, hashtags and suggested accounts and will stop people from tagging or mentioning teens that don't follow them. Instagram will also start nudging teens towards different topics if they've been dwelling on one topic for a long time.

MORE: Whistleblower Frances Haugen calls Facebook danger to children and democracy

"We’ll also be launching our first tools for parents and guardians early next year to help them get more involved in their teen’s experiences on Instagram," Mosseri said. "Parents and guardians will be able to see how much time their teens spend on Instagram and set time limits. And we’ll have a new educational hub for parents and guardians."

PHOTO: The Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device in New York. (Jenny Kane/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: The Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device in New York. (Jenny Kane/AP, FILE)

The first tools for parents and guardians are set to launch in March, and will allow them to view how much time their teens spend on Instagram and set time limits. Teens can also notify their parents if they report someone, which Monserri says can give parents the opportunity to talk with their children about it. The educational hub for parents will also include additional resources like tutorials and tips from experts to help them discuss and understand their teens' social media use.

MORE: Facebook is 'pausing' development of Instagram Kids amid mounting backlash

"As always, I’m grateful to the experts and researchers who lend us their expertise in critical areas like child development, teen mental health and online safety, and I continue to welcome productive collaboration with lawmakers and policymakers on our shared goal of creating an online world that both benefits and protects many generations to come," Mosseri said.

PHOTO: Teens use cellphones on a bed in this stock photo. (STOCK/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Teens use cellphones on a bed in this stock photo. (STOCK/Getty Images)

The updates come in the wake of a former Facebook employee testifying before lawmakers in October. Whistleblower Frances Haugen alleged blatant disregard from company executives when they learned their platforms could have harmful effects on the mental health of young people.

Documents leaked to the Wall Street Journal by Haugen cited the company's own internal research said that Instagram made body image worse for 1 in 3 teenage girls.

Mosseri, meanwhile, is scheduled to testify on Wednesday before a Senate panel for a hearing titled "Protecting Kids Online: Instagram and Reforms for Young Users." The hearing will commence at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Instagram rolls out features to protect young users amid mounting controversies originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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