Meta Platforms announced on Tuesday, January 9 that they will restrict teens’ social media accounts after social media giants advocate to protect children from harmful app contents.
Meta announced in a blog post that all teenagers will be subject to the strictest content control settings on their apps. Moreover, Instagram will limit additional search terms, aiming to reduce teenagers’ exposure to sensitive content like suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders when utilizing features such as Search and Explore.
The company stated that these measures, set to be implemented gradually in the following weeks, aim to provide a more “age-appropriate” user experience. Meta has faced criticism in the United States and Europe due to allegations that its apps are addictive and have contributed to a mental health crisis among young people.
In October, over 40 states filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the social media company benefited from advertising revenue by purposefully creating features on Instagram and Facebook to maximize the duration that teenagers and children spent on the platforms.
Following a two-year investigation involving multiple states, the lawsuit referenced various studies, including Meta’s own research, indicating connections between the usage of Instagram and Facebook by young individuals and issues like depression, anxiety, and other health concerns.
Attorneys argued in the lawsuit that the platforms’ algorithms prompt the release of dopamine in young users, akin to a gambler’s experience at a slot machine, encouraging prolonged scrolling.
For advertisers on Facebook and Instagram, children have remained an attractive target audience as these platforms aim to capture them as consumers during formative years, potentially fostering brand loyalty.
Meta has engaged in intense rivalry with TikTok for young users recently, observing a decline in teen usage of Facebook, once a dominant app among this demographic.
As per a 2023 Pew Research Center survey, 63% of U.S. teens reported using TikTok, while 59% used Instagram, whereas only 33% mentioned using Facebook.
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