Instagram logo on a Galaxy S10Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

What you need to know

  • Facebook's Nick Clegg is pressed in an interview about Instagram's role in the mental health of its youngest users.
  • Clegg says that the company is working on features to help move teens away from potentially harmful content.
  • These features include optional parental controls, nudges, and "take a break" prompts.

Facebook has been in a lot of heat lately with outages and increased scrutiny over its platform in light of recent whistleblower testimony. However, a Facebook exec states that the company has "future plans" to address the harmful effects of Instagram with a series of parental controls and prompts.

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of Global Affairs, was pressed in an interview about the role that Instagram has played in teen mental health and body image. While Clegg acknowledges that a minority of users are affected, he states that the company is looking to make changes to help address these concerns.

We're going to introduce new controls for adults of teens — on an optional basis, obviously — so that adults can supervise what their teens are doing online.

Clegg mentions another feature in which the system will recognize that a teen may be continuously viewing content that may be damaging to their well-being and "nudge" them away from that content.

Additionally, the company plans to add a "take a break" prompt that will remind teens to do just that to limit the amount of time spent on the app.

Clegg doesn't go into much detail on these features, noting in the interview that these are part of the company's "future plans." He says, however, that Facebook has invested $13 billion in making sure its apps are safe for consumers and already has features aimed at protecting its youngest users, including prompts that provide teens with resources on eating disorders.

However, former Facebook employee Francis Haugen has stated that the company has prioritized its own profits over the safety of its users, optimizing its algorithm to keep people on its apps longer.

Facebook's own research says as these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed, and it actually makes them use the app more.

She also notes how the research suggests that Instagram is "distinctly worse" for teenagers than other forms of social media. Just last week, Facebook announced that it was postponing its plans to develop Instagram for Kids amid ongoing allegations.