Instagram gives you more control over what you see.
Instagram on Thursday launched a new set of features that help you manage what you see in your feed and silence notifications.
The changes to Instagram, which include the option to hide posts containing any keywords users choose (such as “fitness” or “diet”), appear to seek to address concerns raised by policymakers about the platform’s impact on teens in the wake of the documents. Interior shared by former Meta employee Frances Haugen.
New settings include Quiet mode, which allows users to set a custom schedule to silence Instagram notifications and auto-reply to direct messages (DMs). The app will automatically ask teens to enable silent mode when they have spent a “set amount of time” browsing the app at night.
Instagram announced parental controls in 2021, but the platform is now taking steps to allow more control over user feeds — and to give parents more insight into their kids’ Instagram habits.
Users will now be able to filter out posts that contain specific words in their captions and hashtags. Instagram already allowed users to filter DMs with a self-made list of potentially harmful or offensive content, but the expanded filtering option will allow users to customize their feeds on a more granular level than before.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2021 that Facebook’s internal research had found significant harmful effects of its products on a relatively small portion of teenage users. Haugen later revealed that she was the source behind the documents shared with the magazine.
“32 percent of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel bad,” the researchers wrote, according to the paper. Of the teens who reported suicidal thoughts, according to the report, 13% of British users and 6% of US users again linked the problem to Instagram.
At the time, Instagram’s head of public policy wrote in a blog post that although the article highlighted a “limited set of results,” it stood by the research, which they said showed “mixed” results on whether the means Social networking is good or bad for users. The company promised that it was working on ways to reduce harmful effects, including by “addressing negative social comparison and negative body image.”
Facebook renamed Meta in 2021 as part of a campaign to overhaul its image with a focus on virtual reality and metaverse.
Lawmakers in Congress and at the state level have increased their focus on how to protect the well-being of children online by imposing new requirements on the platforms. Although changes still have to be codified nationally, California recently enacted the Age-Appropriate Design Act, which requires platforms to consider how their services could pose a risk to minors and forces them to run stricter privacy settings by default. The state is currently facing a lawsuit from tech industry group NetChoice, which argues the law violates First Amendment rights and could harm minors by restricting their access to important resources.
Quiet mode will initially be available in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.