Facebook introduces new controls to help kids use its platforms

In the wake of the horrendous testimony that Facebook platforms harm children, Facebook will introduce several features to encourage teens to use Instagram to take a break and "nudge" them if they continue to look at content that is not beneficial to their health.

Facebook introduces new controls to help kids use its platforms

Facebook, a Menlo Park, California-based company, is also looking to add new controls for teens. This will allow parents and guardians to monitor what their teenagers are doing online. These new initiatives follow Facebook's announcement late last month of suspending work on its Instagram for Kids program. Critics say that the plan is lacking details and that it does not appear to be feasible for the new features to work.

Nick Clegg (Facebook's vice president of global affairs), presented the new controls on Sunday. He appeared on several Sunday news programs, including CNN's State of the Union and ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. There, he was asked about Facebook's use of algorithmics as well as its role as a source of misinformation in the lead up to the Jan. 6 Capitol Riots.

Clegg said to Dana Bash that they are always improving our products. We cannot make everyone's lives perfect by waving our fingers. We can only improve the safety and enjoyment of our products.

Clegg stated that Facebook has spent $13 billion in the last few years to ensure safety and that the company employs 40,000 people who work on these issues. Clegg stated that Facebook has tried its best to prevent harmful content from its platforms but he is open to more regulation and oversight.

He stated that "we need more transparency." Bash told CNN. He said that Facebook's systems should be regulated if necessary to ensure that people can "match what our systems tell them to do with what actually happens."

Frances Haugen (a former data scientist at Facebook) went before Congress last Wednesday to accuse the social network of failing to make Instagram more safe after internal research revealed that some teens were suffering from harm. She also accused it of not being transparent in its fight against hate speech and misinformation. The tens of thousands pages of internal research documents that Haugen secretly copied before she left her job at the company's civic integrity division supported Haugen's claims.

Fairplay's executive director Josh Golin said that he does not believe that parents should introduce controls to monitor teens because many teens have secret accounts. He was also unsure about the effectiveness of urging teens to stop using harmful content or take a break. He said that Facebook should show how it would implement the tool and provide research to prove its effectiveness.

He said, "There's a lot to be skeptical." He said that regulators should limit what Facebook does to its algorithms.

He also stated that he believes Facebook should end its Instagram project for children.

Clegg responded to questions from Stephanopoulos and Bash in separate interviews regarding the use of algorithms in amplifying misinformation in advance of the Jan. 6 riots. He said that if Facebook removed its algorithms, people would see more hate speech and misinformation.

Clegg stated to both hosts that the algorithms act as giant spam filters.

In a separate interview, Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic Senator from Minnesota, stated to Bash that it was time for children's privacy laws to be updated and more transparency regarding the use of algorithms.

Klobuchar said that while he appreciates his willingness to discuss things, he believes the time for discussion is over. He was referring to Clegg’s plan. "Now is the time to act."

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