Technology

Instagram “can help” troubled youth, says boss

On the eve of the hearing, Instagram announced a series of measures aimed at strengthening the protection of young people. Senator Blackburn thus accused Instagram of seeking to “create a distraction” just before the hearing. (Photo: 123RF)

Washington – Instagram “can help” young people in difficulty, said his boss Adam Mosseri during his hearing in the United States Congress on Wednesday, taking the opposite of the recent accusations against the social network, facing unconvinced parliamentarians.

“Sometimes young people go to Instagram when they are going through difficult things in their lives,” said the man who has run this Facebook subsidiary (now Meta) for three years. “I think Instagram can help a lot of them in these times.”

In the lead up to this audition très attendue, Adam Mosseri has listed a series of measures awarded by Instagram to render the platform plus sûre pour les jeunes utilisateurs tout en défendant les résultats des recherches internes qui ont récemment fuité et nourri les critiques à l’encontre du social network.

One of the studies, from 2019, found that Instagram reflects a negative self-image for a third of girls under the age of 20.

Another, from 2020, showed that 32% of adolescents felt that the use of the social network had worsened their body image when they were already dissatisfied with it.

“Facebook’s own investigation has alerted management, including you, for years to the damaging impact of Instagram on adolescent mental health,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the subcommittee on protection, told consumers. which Mosseri speaks.

However, Facebook “kept taking advantage of this disturbing content because it meant more traffic, advertising and dollars,” said the Democrat-elect.

“We have the same goal,” replied Adam Mosseri, “we want young users to be safe on the Internet.” The manager undertook, at Mr. Blumenthal’s request, to provide access to part of the proceeds of his internal investigation.

He refused to publicly give up the creation of an Instagram for children under 13, simply promising that the social network would not create accounts for children aged 10 to 12 that could be created without parental consent.

“I’m frustrated, because this is the fourth time in two years we’ve talked to someone about Meta (new name for Facebook) and I feel like the conversation keeps repeating itself endlessly,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Republican leader on the subcommittee. .

“My conversations with parents strongly encourage me to fight for reforms and to demand the answers that the entire country is waiting for,” Senator Blumenthal said Tuesday.

In mid-November, several US states launched an investigation into whether Meta had deliberately allowed children and adolescents to use Instagram, knowing that the platform could harm their mental and physical health.

Measures

On the eve of the hearing, Instagram announced a series of measures aimed at strengthening the protection of young people.

In particular, the application will prevent users from mentioning teenagers who are not subscribed to their profile in their posts. She had already reported private minors by default when they signed up.

The social network will also offer, in March 2022, tools that allow parents to see how much time their children spend on the application and set limits. They will soon have access to an information center with tutorials and expert advice.

Another new feature is that Instagram is rolling out the “Take a break” option in all major English-speaking markets, which will suggest that users stop scrolling through the app for a while.

Mosseri also announced the appearance, in January, of a new space within the application that will allow teenagers to review all their activity on Instagram, from published content to comments, including ‘likes’ ”, and possibly delete part of she. to allow them to “manage their fingerprint more easily”.

These announcements were met with suspicion, even hostility, from US senators.

Senator Blackburn thus accused Instagram of seeking to “create a distraction” just before the hearing.

The president of the Family Online Safety Institute, an association for the defense of families using the Internet, Stephen Balkam greeted him with an “encouraging” sign. “This is the latest in a long list of improvements that Instagram has made in the last two or three years.”

“Instagram is safer than it used to be,” he continued, “less toxic to teens. But it will never be perfect, it will never be completely sure. But it’s true on all social media. “

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