Facebook announces Instagram safeguarding controls

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Facebook Announces Instagram Safeguarding Controls Facebook Announces Instagram Safeguarding Controls
Facebook plans new safeguarding controls for children, but critics have called the announcement ‘crisis comms’ and a ‘public relations exercise’.
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William Janes, PA

Facebook has announced several new features to help safeguard young people following claims that its platforms harm children.

New functions include prompting teenagers to take a break from using its photo sharing app Instagram, and “nudging” teenagers if they are repeatedly looking at the same content which may not be good for their wellbeing.

Facebook is also planning to introduce new optional controls to allow parents and guardians to supervise their children’s online activity.

The initiatives, announced on Sunday by Sir Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs, come after the tech company revealed late last month that it was pausing work on its Instagram for Kids project.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Sir Nick Clegg (Niall Carson/PA)

But critics say the company has acted only after pressure from outside.

Others have said the plan lacks detail and they are sceptical about the effectiveness of the new features.

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Mr Clegg told CNN’s State Of The Union programme: “We are constantly iterating in order to improve our products.

“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.”

Mr Clegg said Facebook has invested $13 billion dollars (€11.2 billion) over the past few years in trying to help keep the platform safe and that the company has 40,000 people working on these issues.

Whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former data scientist with Facebook, last week went before the United States Congress to accuse the social media platform of failing to make changes to Instagram after internal research showed apparent harm to some teenagers and of being dishonest in its public fight against hate and misinformation.

Ms Haugen’s accusations were accompanied by tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in the company’s civic integrity unit.

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