A kid’s version of Instagram is in the works

Source: Buzzfeed

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testified before Congress this morning, CNBC reports. Mosseri refused to cancel the plans to create a kid-friendly version of Instagram for users under the age of 13.

CNBC stated that “Mosseri told the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection that he is the ultimate decision-maker on the matter.” His plan is to create this version of Instagram to keep children under the age of 13 from downloading Instagram without their parent’s permission.

The day before this testimony, the company announced that it will be making new teen safety adjustments to the app, such as a “Take a Break” notifications, removing users’ ability to tag teens that do not follow them, and eventually options to allow parents to monitor teens’ Instagram usage.

The Congress hearing was about online child safety and protection, as too many underaged users have created Instagram accounts due to issues with age verification. Lawmakers have been unhappy with the speed of the plaform’s implementation of safety measures, feeling as if Instagram is not committed to the safety of children.

Instagram’s commitment to safety has been a hot topic since whistleblower Frances Haugen released documents from Facebook and Instagram, exposing Meta‘s tendency to ignore negative data. According to The Washington Post, data shows that Instagram negatively affects young users’ mental health and body image, with “17% of teen girls [saying] that their eating disorders got worse after Instagram use.”

The subcomittee now lacks trust in Instagram and Facebook, seeing how they ignored and hid negative data, rather than building solutions and implementing safety measures.

The day before this testimony, the company announced that it will be making new teen safety adjustments to the app, such as a “Take a Break” notifications, removing users’ ability to tag teens that do not follow them, and eventually options to allow parents to monitor teens’ Instagram usage.

With all of this new information about how Instagram plans to improve its safety measures, it leaves people wondering about the effectiveness and if something like a kid-friendly Instagram should even be created. Though it seems like a safer option at first, it could pose a new set of safety issues that could have been avoided.

Despite all of this, development of the app has been paused and there is no projected release date at this time.


In Defense of Social Media

Image courtesy of jakartapost.com

It would seem like public opinion regarding social media has certainly been on the decline in the last few years. With no shortage of platform controversies and new data about its negative impact on mental health, more and more people have been preaching the idea that the best way to set yourself free, is to just quit. Say goodbye. Log off. Go outside. But is going “cold turkey” really the solution? In a recent Forbes article, John Brandon explained why cutting all ties from social media could actually have a negative impact if not properly thought out. This article was in response to a TED Talk by Professor Cal Newport, where the professor highlighted a variety of negative effects from platform usage. Since the TED Talk was from 2016, not all the issues we’ve come to know now were covered. In the past few years, social media has been associated with causing depression and negative self-image, addiction and lessening attention spans, spreading misinformation and disinformation, selling private data, and causing further divisiveness among a society in the midst of social/political turmoil… to name just a few issues.

That list alone could be enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel on social media for good, but Brandon explained how that could be a recipe for disaster. “Quitting is not the same as controlling” he wrote. Brandon’s take on social media usage is similar to how we would talk about drinking or eating junk food in moderation. Most things that are done in excess tend to have negative side effect regardless of their original intention, and social media is no exception. As much as some of us would like to believe it, a platform is not just some wicked entity; it’s a tool (as Brandon put it), and as autonomous individuals, we have the power to decide how we utilize this tool. And similar to vices like drinking or junk food, if we feel we’ve abused it, quitting cold turkey tends to backfire.

More than anything, I worry about the “cold turkey” approach because people eventually get sucked back into using the apps. “I’m deleting my account” says the person who is not able to control usage, and hasn’t dealt with a tendency to overuse the apps. A few weeks or months later, that person is back using the app again, maybe even more than ever before.

John Brandon, Forbes Magazine 2021

This is not to say that you shouldn’t leave social media if you truly want to. Heck, I was offline for most of 2019 and have no regrets about it. It’s just important to remember all the benefits that having these accounts comes with if used responsibly and in moderation. Being connected to world means an endless stream of discovery and inspiration. It means having a direct way of communicating with friends and family that may live across the world. It means more opportunity to promote your passions. I’m not ashamed to say that I won’t leave social media out of fear of general FOMO. I understand how rapidly networking technology is accelerating, and I don’t want to miss out. Though, it does need to change for the better. It will be interesting to see what type of regulations are put in place on the web in the coming years, if any. Though until then, our best course of action to avoid the negative implications of living online is to get a better sense of ourselves, look within, and be honest about if we’re using these tools responsibly.

The Algorithm Trick

Social media sites are known for having their algorithms. Algorithms are key to each app, including Instagram, TikTok, and more, as they figure out your interests and show users material that will keep their attention and make them want to stay on the app and continue using it. Michelle Drouin is a professor of Psychology at Purdue Fort Wayne who has studied social media and how it impacts humans and relationships. When discussing algorithms, she tells how certain components, such as fear, anger, happiness, and catastrophic events cause attention and can make things become viral. Social media algorithms tend to the general public, as well as each person’s interests.

            This article interests me because social media sites try to keep their algorithms secretive, but people feel that they have somewhat figured out aspects of each algorithm. People know what others want to see and they make their content based on what emotions appeal to other viewers. Algorithms are interesting and a tricky subject because I do not believe they work if you do not let them. When I use apps, I try not to fall into the algorithm trap. I will mute things I do not want to see so that my feed is tailored to me by what I deem interesting. The algorithm is interesting, but I suggest that people try and stay focused and not spend too much time on social media apps because they want you to fall into that trap and get sucked into their algorithms.

Does Music Artists Personal Life Connect to Our Consumption of Their Music?

Recent comments by singer Katy Perry, about singer Adele and her new project 30 (debut November 19th) sparked a popular topic in the music industry. Perry’s comments stated “Adele drops new music when everyone is vulnerable and sensitive” typically during the Autumn seasons. She says it in a joking tone, indicating that she is excited to hear this new music. But acknowledges a tactic that labels and music artists use to generate the most traffic to their projects. Adele being a highly anticipated artist, understands her influence on the music industry and her fans. She releases heartfelt ballads that are praised but often associated with love and sorrow. Katy Perry being more of an upbeat pop artist, she joked that other artists release music when they know the world is about to be “sad”.

Other artists like Drake have been associated with promoting his music by thriving on his fan’s highs and lows. Since debuting his first studio project Comeback Season  Drake was associated with jokes like “don’t drake and drive” or “Drake is so sensitive and lonely, always longing for a woman”. His Toronto sound became a staple in the music industry because of his reminiscent lyrics and personal life. This age of celebrities shares so much of their lives with their fans. Drake’s been romantically associated with women such as Serena WilliamsRihannaJorja Smith, Jennifer Lopez, etc. Drake acknowledges his failed romances, childhood traumas, and feuds in his music. His fan’s connection and opinion towards his romantic relationships, somehow correspond with his album/streaming success. A pattern shown in Drake’s release dates shows that he thrives on his fan’s highs and lows: releasing music strategically in the colder seasons and summertime.

Perry emphasized in her comment that Adele’s songs alone don’t keep the fans anticipated. It’s the fact that Adele releases her music during the colder seasons, when there is a rise in seasonal depression. Another artist associated with his industry strategy is the singer Kehlani. In a recent interview with Power 105.1 The Breakfast Club radio show, she expressed her appreciation for fans that support her music. She then described a common theme in reaction to her music, saying “my fans love when I’m heart-broken”. Implying that she releases more “fire” music when she’s dealing with emotional trauma. Now that her fans hear more “self love and happy songs”, they still admire it, but it gives them a different feel.

To name one more artist whose name is associated with heartbreak, strategic release dates, and close connection to fans is Summer Walker. Without getting too deep into her personal life, Summer Walker is an R&B singer who debuted her first EP in 2019 and first album the same year. Walker has been associated with her now ex-boyfriend, producer London on da Track. This up and down relationship led to him producing her first studio album, along with causing a great amount of heartbreak for the two of them. Because Walker uses social networking sites to connect with her fans, they got a front-row seat to the madness. Since their break-up, Walker announced her new album to be released November 5th, not produced by London. Her fans are excited for her music because they thrive on her heartbreak songs that just so happen to be released when “everyone is most vulnerable” like Perry says. Is it true heartbreak and seasonal depression bring album sales? 

Social medias’ uphill battle with eating disorder-related content

Image courtesy of BBC.com/news

In these past couple weeks after whistleblower, Frances Haugen, testified before congress regarding how Facebook’s algorithm has been feeding harmful content and misinformation to the masses, the topic of how social media perpetuates eating disorder-related content has reached the mainstream. Internal documents revealed how Instagram’s algorithm has perpetuated content that is normally associated with the more toxic realm of body, weight, and health related material. This has resulted in “proana” (short for pro-anorexia) as well as other disorder eating related content being exposed to users. This has been incredibly problematic for younger demographics whose sense of self and esteem are so vulnerable.

For many people reading this, this is old news. Content that glamorizes eating disorders have been prevalent on social media platforms long before the birth of Facebook and Instagram. Myspace and Tumblr were especially notorious hotbeds for all things “thinspiration” in the early to mid-2010s. As the years went on, tech companies have been more proactive in taking down profiles and posts that included any keywords associated with eating disorders, while subsequently making sure that anyone who searched up these terms was given direct access to helplines and psychiatric support. Facebook has been slammed in the last month with outrage from a public demanding to know why these algorithms would continue to promote content so dangerous to young people. Is it a shameless cash-grab within the weight loss industry? A miscalculation in a technical code? How could they let this continue to happen? Well, while those questions are still valid to ask, its important to note that identifying harmful content is not as simple as it may seem. In a New York Times article, authors Kate Conger, Kellen Browning and Erin Woo referenced an important quote about this topic:

“Social media in general does not cause an eating disorder. However, it can contribute to an eating disorder,” said Chelsea Kronengold, a spokeswoman for the National Eating Disorders Association. “There are certain posts and certain content that may trigger one person and not another person. From the social media platform’s perspective, how do you moderate that gray area content?”


From an outsider’s perspective, it may be easy to look at one profile and categorize it as “harmful” while viewing another as “health-related”. However, that perspective can differ drastically depending on the individual. There is a plethora of content that was never intended to be viewed as “proana”, but, unfortunately, is worshipped that way. Think models, influencers, or fitness gurus. How is an algorithm meant to understand what reaction a user will gauge? It becomes even more difficult when we look at how many people use social media as a place to tell their story about their eating disorder recovery. One of the most beautiful aspects of the modern age is how we can use these platforms to connect with other people who are struggling and offer them support. Unfortunately, like influencers, accounts meant to promote recovery can also be viewed in a toxic mentality that further perpetuates disordered thinking. Is Instagram supposed to shut down these survivors’ accounts as well? The accounts that really perpetuate these toxic ideologies are often hard for social media to identify; the hashtags will normally be one letter off from the keyword that would get them shut down, while any wording in posts is carefully crafted as to avoid them as well.

Instagram and Facebook have made a lot of progress in taking these accounts down compared to the past. However, these new reports have also exposed the flaws in their system. They are not without fault, but it is important to remember how difficult paroling this type of evading is on a scale of over a billion users. No one (not just girls) should be exposed to accounts that promote EDs, but for those who wish to seek it out, can always find a way to hide in the shadows. It will be interesting to see how Facebook address this situation, and whether or not they will make changes in their technology and AI to more accurately identify the nature of these accounts. Though, they may want to consider that the best course of action, for vulnerable people to truly avoid coming across these triggers to their mental health, is to denounce their platform; to not assume that everything can be fixed from within, and for once, just suggest that their platform is not suitable for some people to use.

Facebook announces plans for how to ‘nudge’ teens away from harmful content

Image via The Verge

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.

How Antigua and Barbuda Plan To Both Encourage and Capitalize Off Of Americans During The Covid-19 Pandemic

It seems as though the Covid-19 pandemic will be our reality for the next few months now, and other countries (or should I say islands) are well aware of this too. So, as an effort to make Americans and other people around the world feel a little bit more secure and happy during these unprecedented times, Antigua and Barbuda created a social media campaign called, ‘Message in the Sand’.

As bored, lonely tourists in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis imagine where they’d like to be or where they might go once the green flags fly again, a pair of Caribbean destinations are using social media to send an S.O.S. to the world.

Antigua and Barbuda are islands in the West Indies that rely specifically on tourism to drive their economies–in saying that they have decided to launch this social media campaign to not only spread kindness and encourage people in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic to keep their heads up but to also encourage travelers to keep Antigua and Barbuda in mind for future trips when the pandemic subsides.

For their first post, they took to Instagram to write the message, “Be well” in the sand, followed by this caption:

𝘚𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘭𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘶𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘦. .

𝘉𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘔𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘤𝘬 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘭𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘰𝘧 𝘰𝘶𝘳 365 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮. .

𝘉𝘦 S𝘢𝘧𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘉𝘦 W𝘦𝘭𝘭. .

#𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘥 #𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘣𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘶𝘥𝘢 #stayhome #staysafe

You can view each message across all of Antigua’s social media channels and interact with them as well! In my opinion, this is an incredible marketing strategy that I am interested to see whether or not it will increase tourism activity in the respective locations when people are allowed to travel freely again.



Sources: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnscottlewinski/2020/04/05/antigua-and-barbuda-kicking-sand-on-social-media-during-covid-19/#5c1b7eec3b2d



The Hottest Parties In The Country Are Now At Your Fingertips And Here’s Why

With the spread of the coronavirus causing quarantine to be in full effect, all social gatherings of any and all sorts have been put to a halt. With this, many night-life seeking individuals have felt deprived of fun, entertainment, and a means to socialize, but on Friday, March 21st, this problem found a solution.

On Friday night, the world mourning the loss of loved ones, freedom, and access to the world due to the coronavirus were able to let loose, unwind, and partake in the biggest social gathering around the world without the fear of spreading or contracting the virus.

According to the NY Times,

Over 4,000 people were in attendance, including headliners like Jennifer Lopez, Drake, Naomi Campbell, Diddy, Mary J. Blige, DJ Khaled, T.I., Queen Latifah and Tracee Ellis Ross.

There was no charge at the door, no security, no drink minimum and you could attend in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home.

This party, (you guessed it) was online and available to anyone who had access to an Instagram account. The party was called ‘Homeschoolin’ and could be found on DJ Nice’s Instagram live–where he held hour-long jam sessions from his home in Los Angeles (playing all of the hits, new and old, but you never heard the same song twice with his mixes.)

With the tragedy of the coronavirus negatively impacting our world and changing the ways in which we navigate our lives, partying on social media apps–that are designed to allow people to spend time together without having to see one another in person, has both eliminated the risk of spreading the virus and brought an abundance of joy to those who have not been able to leave their homes amongst the pandemic.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/21/arts/d-nice-instagram.html?auth=login-facebook&searchResultPosition=4