Instagram aims to launch timeline feed option in 2022

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December 8 (Reuters) – The Instagram manager said on Wednesday he intended to launch a version of the app with a chronological feed, rather than an algorithmic ranking, when he first appeared next year outside Congress where he was asked about child safety online.

Instagram’s Adam Mosseri was the latest tech leader pressed by lawmakers to provide more transparency into the algorithms of their platforms and the impact of the content they curate and recommend to users.

Instagram and its parent company Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O), formerly Facebook, have been under scrutiny for the potential impact of their services on the mental health, body image and safety of young users. , including after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents. on the company’s approach to young users.

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Speaking to a Senate panel, Mosseri said the photo-sharing app had been running “for months” on the option of a chronologically ordered feed and planned to launch in early 2022, in a significant change for the service, which uses algorithmic ranking to tailor a feed based on user preferences.

At the hearing, lawmakers urged Mosseri to seek specific responses on the legislative reforms he would support regarding children’s online safety, including targeted advertising. In his opening remarks, Senator Richard Blumenthal said the days of self-regulation are over.

In his testimony, Mosseri called for the creation of an industry body to determine best practices to help keep young people safe online. The body, he said, should receive inputs from civil society, parents and regulators to create standards on how to verify age, design age-appropriate experiences and create parental controls.

Mosseri said tech companies would need to meet the standards of this proposed industry body to “earn” some of their Section 230 protections, referring to a key US internet law that gives tech platforms protections against the internet. responsibility for the content posted by users.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee hearing on consumer protection, product safety and data security on “Protecting Kids Online: Instagram and Reforms for Young Users ”at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, United States on December 8, 2021. REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz

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Instagram, since September, has suspended plans for a children’s version of the app, amid growing opposition to the project.

The hiatus followed a Wall Street Journal report that internal documents, leaked by former Facebook employee Haugen, showed the company knew Instagram could have harmful effects on adolescent mental health.

Mosseri, speaking at the hearing, echoed the company’s previous claims that public reports misrepresent internal research. He didn’t commit to making the hiatus permanent on a kid-focused version of Instagram. Read more

He also touted the product announcements Instagram made on Tuesday about the safety of young users, but Senator Marsha Blackburn called the updates “too little, too late” while Senator Blumenthal referred to changes, including Instagram’s hiatus on its kids app, as a “tactical audience for relationships.” Read more

On a post-hearing call, Blackburn said she would like to see Instagram offer the option of a purely chronological feed “today” while Blumenthal said it could be a “milestone. depending on the details “.

Senator Blackburn also said her team created a fake Instagram account for a 15-year-old that was by default a public account, despite changes Instagram made to keep new accounts for users under 16 private by fault. Mosseri said this flaw was missed on the web version of the site and will be fixed.

Instagram, like other social media sites, has rules prohibiting children under the age of 13 from joining the platform, but said it knows it has users that age. In his testimony, Mosseri called for more age verification technologies at the phone level, rather than individual technology platforms, so that users have an “age-appropriate experience.”

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Reporting by David Shepardson, Elizabeth Culliford and Diane Bartz; Editing by Chris Sanders, Franklin Paul, Mark Porter, Bernadette Baum and Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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