Instagram will 'nudge' teens away from harm, encourage taking breaks
Facebook is grappling with the aftermath of whistleblower Frances Haugen's testimony that showed it proceeded to build Instagram Kids, fully aware that Instagram is detrimental to teenagers' mental health. In a defensive statement on Sunday, Facebook's VP of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, said Instagram will introduce new measures to "nudge" users away from harmful content and encourage them to "take a break." Here's more.
Haugen's testimony before a Senate Committee last week revealed the extent to which Facebook is potentially damaging the fabric of society. Effects of its platforms can be seen on teenage mental health, the spread of misinformation, unchecked political gaslighting, and election manipulation. Even before Haugen revealed her identity, Facebook took flak and announced plans to temporarily shelve the development of Instagram Kids.
Now, after Haugen's detailed testimony, Facebook is under greater pressure to rectify the societal issues Instagram inadvertently causes. To this effect, Clegg said, "We're going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference." He explained that if Facebook algorithms find teenagers revisiting content which "may not be conducive to their well-being," Instagram will "nudge them to look at other content."
On CNN's State of the Union show, Clegg also mentioned that Instagram plans to introduce a feature tentatively called "Take a Break." Living up to its name, the feature would prompt teenagers on Instagram to just leave the social media platform alone for a while. The feature has reportedly been on the mind of Instagram boss Adam Mosseri for a while now.
Clegg didn't specify when "Take a Break" or the nudge away feature would be available. However, according to The Verge, a Facebook spokesperson said both the features are "not testing yet but will soon." When CNN asked Clegg about Facebook's role in amplifying pro-insurrection voices before the Capitol Hill protests, he said he couldn't answer in a definitive yes or no.
Clegg said Facebook algorithms "should be held to account, if necessary, by regulation so that people can match what our systems say they're supposed to do from what actually happens." Clegg's statements reflect a clear unwillingness to nip the problem at the bud and remove harmful content from Instagram. We believe this likely won't satisfy Haugen and the regulators, too.