In the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, Facebook will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break from using its sister app Instagram, and “nudging” teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that’s not conducive to their well-being.
Facebook has come under fire thanks to whistleblower Frances Haughan sharing details on how founder Mark Zuckerberg allowed misinformation to persist during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, among other myriad issues with the multibillion-dollar app.
Haugen, a former data scientist with Facebook, appeared before Congress last week to accuse the social media platform of failing to make changes to Instagram after internal research showed apparent harm to some teens and of being dishonest in its public fight against hate and misinformation. Haugen’s testimony was supported by tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in the company’s civic integrity unit.
Dear Mark Zuckerberg,
Your spokesman said Facebook would be reducing "politics" on "people's feeds"
What about the young women dying from your website every day?
How many have to die Mark?
Just give the world a number.pic.twitter.com/CdgJds84Ww
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) October 10, 2021
Facebook is also planning to introduce new controls for adults of teens on an optional basis so that parents or guardians can supervise what their teens are doing online. These initiatives come after Facebook announced late last month that it was pausing work on its Instagram for Kids project. But critics say the plan lacks details and they are skeptical that the new features would be effective.
— Debra Messing✍🏻 (@DebraMessing) October 10, 2021
Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, a watchdog for the children and media marketing industry, said that he doesn’t think introducing controls to help parents supervise teens would be effective since many teens set up secret accounts anyway. He was also dubious about how effective nudging teens to take a break or move away from harmful content would be. He noted Facebook needs to show exactly how they would implement it and offer research that shows these tools are effective. “There is tremendous reason to be skeptical,” he told the Associated Press. He added that regulators need to restrict what Facebook does with its algorithms and said he also believes that Facebook should cancel its Instagram project for kids.
Facebook outage pic.twitter.com/xbMQ2jbb0H
— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) October 10, 2021
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss the issues with Facebook. Appearing along with Sen. Klobuchar was Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs, who made the rounds on various Sunday news shows to try to put out various fires.
CNN's Dana Bash: "Did the algorithms that are in place amplify pro-insurrection voices ahead of Jan. 6? Yes or no?"
Facebook's Nick Clegg: "I can't give you a yes or no answer to the individual, personalized feeds that each person uses." pic.twitter.com/MwLUwiYkLI
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) October 10, 2021
Watch the intense discussion, below.