Facebook is planning to introduce new features to protect teenagers’ mental health, including measures prompting teens to take a break from Instagram, as well as features to nudge young people away from harmful content. In CNN’s State of the Union show on Sunday, Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg commented: “We’re going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference, which is where our systems see that a teenager is looking at the same content over and over again, and it’s content which may not be conducive to their well being, we will nudge them to look at other content”. Moreover, he added Facebook is pausing its plans for an Instagram Kids platform, which was also strongly criticized.
“We cannot, with a wave of the wand, make everyone’s life perfect. What we can do is improve our products, so that our products are as safe and as enjoyable to use.”Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president of global affairs
The announcement comes less than a week after whistleblower Frances Haugen accused the company of failing to improve Instagram after internal research confirmed that the social media app negatively affects the mental health of young people. Clegg explained that Facebook has invested $13 billion in the last years to keep the platform safe. However, he also noted: “We need greater transparency,” and that Facebook’s 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.”
It is very interesting to observe how Facebook is defending its strategy in this ongoing debate. The social media company is one of the most powerful forces in our times and therefore influences people’s daily life worldwide. Therefore, this debate is not only about Facebook’s repetition, but also determines how people, and in particular teenagers, are going to consume and use social media in the future.