Instagram is developing a feature that will steer teenagers away from harmful content and urge them to step back from the platform, according to Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs of parent company Facebook.
Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union on Monday, October 11, Clegg said, “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.”
The measure, he said, will be “called ‘take a break,’ where we will be prompting teens to just simply take a break from using Instagram.”
As The Verge notes, Clegg made the remarks shortly after Facebook’s former data scientist Frances Haugen testified before the US Congress about internal research showing how Instagram has been harming the mental health of young people.
The data provided by Haugen were reported by the Wall Street Journal on September 14. They included the following:
- “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the company’s researchers said in a slide presentation. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”
- “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
Almost two weeks after the Wall Street Journal published the report, Instagram head Adam Mosseri wrote a blog post explaining their intent to make the platform a safer place for teenagers.
“We announced last week that we’re exploring two new ideas: encouraging people to look at other topics if they’re dwelling on content that might contribute to negative social comparison, and a feature tentatively called ‘Take a Break,’ where people could put their account on pause and take a moment to consider whether the time they’re spending is meaningful,” Mosseri stated.
Clegg did not mention when Instagram will release the new feature, but a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge that they will be testing it soon.