On Wednesday, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri appeared before a Senate panel for the first time, as senators questioned the app’s influence on the mental health of younger users.
During his testimony, Mosseri stated that Instagram is preparing to bring back a version of its news feed that would allow users to arrange media chronologically rather than by algorithm, perhaps addressing concerns about how algorithms lead users down dangerous rabbit holes. According to Mosseri, the business has been working on the feature “for months” and aims to launch it in the first quarter of next year.
Mosseri also highlighted the need for more parental and user features on the platform, as well as updated rules to keep individuals safe online.
“Specifically, we believe there should be an industry body that will determine best practices” for social media companies in terms of verifying user ages, catering to various age groups, and providing parental controls, he said, adding that the body “should receive input from civil society, parents, and regulators.”
Mosseri declined to commit explicitly to suggestions for a “independent” body that is not led by Big Tech, but he agreed that when it comes to young people, it is critical for regulatory standards to apply to social media.
Facebook has attempted to discredit Haugen on many occasions, claiming that her congressional testimony and stories on the papers mischaracterize the company’s conduct. However, the backlash following Haugen’s revelations forced the business to reconsider its plans to offer an Instagram app for children under the age of 13.
When asked if Instagram will “stop creating” an app for younger users on Wednesday, Mosseri defended the initiative, saying that “no child between the ages of 10 and 12, if we ever manage to construct an Instagram for 10 – 12-year-olds, will have access without their explicit agreement.”
Members of Congress have demonstrated uncommon bipartisanship in their criticism of internet corporations on the topic of children online. Some MPs are now pressing for laws to protect children’s internet privacy and lessen the seeming addictiveness of various platforms, but it’s unclear when or if such legislation will be passed.
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