Instagram restricting content it recommends to teens

Instagram announced on Tuesday that it will begin restricting the kinds of content it recommends to teens who use the app.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said in a blog post that the company will take a stricter approach to what teens have access to on the app with the rollout of new features as part of an effort to protect younger users.  

"[W]e’ll stop people from tagging or mentioning teens that don’t follow them, we’ll be nudging teens towards different topics if they’ve been dwelling on one topic for a long time and we’re launching the Take a Break feature in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which we previously announced," Mosseri said in the post.

ADVERTISEMENT

He added that the "Take a Break" feature, which will prompt users to take a short break from using the app after a certain amount of time, will launch for U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday and the rest of the world next year.

"To make sure that teens are aware of this feature, we’ll show them notifications suggesting they turn these reminders on," Mosseri wrote. "We’re encouraged to see that teens are using Take A Break. Early test results show that once teens set the reminders, more than 90% of them keep them on. We’re launching this feature in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia today, and we’ll bring it to everyone by early next year."

Instagram is set to launch a feature in March that will allow parents and guardians to observe how much time their teens spend on the app and set time limits.

Earlier this year, Instagram faced criticism about its effects on children. A Wall Street Journal report revealed that internal Facebook research found that Instagram made one-third of teen girls feel worse about their bodies, leading to Instagram delaying its planned rollout of a version of the app for kids.

Mosseri is set to testify before the Senate this week about Instagram's influence on children.

“After bombshell reports about Instagram’s toxic impacts, we want to hear straight from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that push poisonous content to children, driving them down rabbit holes to dark places, and what it will do to make its platform safer,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the panel’s chair, said last month.