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Facebook exec says future Instagram feature will ‘nudge’ teens away from damaging content

Facebook's vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg says that the company plans to add features to help combat the negative effects of Instagram on teenagers, including one that will prompt younger users away from damaging content.In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on the news network's State of the Union program, Clegg pointed to the announcement last week that Facebook had put its plans to launch an Instagram product specifically for young users on the backburner due to those concerns, even though, he said, the company considers it "part of the solution.""In the meantime, we're going to introduce new...

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg says that the company plans to add features to help combat the negative effects of Instagram on teenagers, including one that will prompt younger users away from damaging content.

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on the news network’s State of the Union program, Clegg pointed to the announcement last week that Facebook had put its plans to launch an Instagram product specifically for young users on the backburner due to those concerns, even though, he said, the company considers it “part of the solution.”

“In the meantime, we’re going to introduce new controls for [parents] of teens, on an optional basis obviously, so that adults can supervise what their teens are doing online,” Clegg told Bash. “Secondly, we’re going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference, which is where our systems see that a teenager, a teen is looking at the same content over and over again, and it’s content which may not be conducive to their wellbeing, we will nudge them to look at other content.”

“And the third additional and new measure we’re introducing is something called ‘Take a Break’, where we will be prompting teens to simply just take a break from using Instagram.”

Clegg also appeared on ABC’s This Week, where he made similar statements about the planned features.

Facebook Inc.’s own internal research, as revealed by whistleblower and former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen in a Senate hearing last week as well as in recent reporting by the Wall Street Journal, showed that a “sizable percentage” of teenagers reported that using Instagram can worsen negative feelings.

Clegg did not go into further detail about how these proposed features would work, or how and why content would be categorised as “not conducive to [teens’] wellbeing.”

Bash, pointing out that the research recently made public had circulated within the company back in 2019, asked Clegg whether these plans were already in place in response to that research, or whether they were, essentially, only being announced now in response to the backlash to the research being made public. Clegg clarified that they are “future plans”, and pointed to existing measures including keyword muting and automated prompts triggered when users are looking at potentially damaging content related to topics like eating disorders.

Mashable has reached out to Facebook to confirm and clarify Clegg’s statements.

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