Facebook, following damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will introduce several features including prompting teens to take a break using its Instagram photo-sharing app, and “nudging” teens if they repeatedly view the same content. which is not conducive. to your well-being.
Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, also plans to introduce new teen adult controls on an optional basis so that parents or guardians can monitor 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 are skeptical the new features will be effective.
The new controls were outlined Sunday by Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, who was present on several Sunday news shows, including CNN’s “State of the Union” and ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” where he they questioned about Facebook. use of algorithms, as well as their role in spreading harmful misinformation ahead of the Jan.6 riots on Capitol Hill.
“We are constantly iterating to improve our products,” Clegg told Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday. “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 enjoyable to use. “
Clegg said Facebook has invested $ 13 billion in recent years to make sure it keeps the platform secure and that the company has 40,000 people working on these issues.
The spate of interviews came after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist, appeared before Congress last week to accuse the social media platform of failing to make changes to Instagram after an internal investigation showed apparent harm to some teenagers and of being dishonest in her public fight against hate and misinformation. Haugen’s allegations were backed up by tens of thousands of pages of internal investigative documents that he secretly copied before leaving his job at the company’s civic integrity unit.
Josh Golin, CEO of Fairplay, a watchdog for kids and the media marketing industry, said he doesn’t think introducing controls to help parents supervise teens is effective, as many teens set up accounts. secret anyway. He also doubted the efficacy of nudging teens to take a break or stay away from harmful content. He noted that Facebook needs to show exactly how they would implement it and offer research that shows these tools are effective.
“There is great reason to be skeptical,” he said. He added that regulators must restrict what Facebook does with its algorithms.
He said that he also believes Facebook should cancel its Instagram project for children.
When Clegg was questioned by Bash and Stephanopoulos in separate interviews about using algorithms to amplify misinformation before the January 6 riots, he responded that if Facebook removed the algorithms, people would see more, not less, hate speech. and more, not less. , misinformation.
Clegg told both hosts that the algorithms serve as “giant spam filters.”
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, told Bash in a separate interview Sunday that it is time to update children’s privacy laws and offer more transparency in the use of algorithms.
“I appreciate that he’s willing to talk about things, but I think the time for conversation is over,” Klobuchar said, referring to Clegg’s plan. “The time for action is now.”