Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri was raked over the coal by the U.S. Senate. He was forced to testify before some very angry senators who are tired of all of the controversies surrounding Instagram, Facebook and their parent company Meta.
The Mosseri testimony came after Instagram added a new safety feature called “Take a Break.” The new measure from the Facebook owned social media platform, which was added in the US, UK, Canada and Australia on Tuesday, tells users that it may be time to take a break if they have been using Instagram for too long.
But in the wake of revelations that Instagram knew that its platform was harmful to the emotional wellbeing of young people and that it did nothing about this the new feature was derided by some as being too little too late.
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Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, said “Our kids aren’t cash cows. And that’s exactly what’s been going on.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the subcommittee called out Mosseri on his company’s behavior saying, “Facebook’s own researchers have been warning management, including yourself, Mr. Mosseri, for years. Parents are asking, what is Congress doing to protect our kids and the resounding bipartisan message from this committee is that legislation is coming. We can’t rely on self-policing.”
“Don’t let your phone take over your life. Take a break and spend time with those you love.” 💗
— Instagram (@instagram) December 8, 2021
“It seems inexcusable that Facebook waited a decade to begin, and only begin, to figure out that Instagram needs parental controls,” he added. “Unfortunately, these announced changes leave parents and kids with no transparency into the black box algorithms. The 600-pound gorillas in those black boxes that drive the addictive content to children and teens.”
“I recognize that many in this room have deep reservations about our company,”Mosseri said. “But I want to assure you that we do have the same goal. We all want teens to be safe online.”
Mosseri also said that Instagram is working on returning to a chronological based feed for users. Today, the platform uses algorithms to determine what a user would most likely want to see first to decide on what order to place new posts into their individual feeds and not based on newest first as it once did before.
This, some people say, is another example of the problem. The feed itself is designed to be addictive and to promote the content most profitable for Instagram.
“We’ve been focusing for a few years now on how to give people more control over their experience, like favorites, which puts accounts you favorite at the top of your feed,” Mosseri told the Senate. “Another we’ve been working on for months is a chron feed. I wish I had a specific month to give you, but right now we’re aiming for early next year.”