Facebook has had a challenging few of weeks. Last week, a series of outages grabbed headlines, with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all falling dark for extended periods of time. But perhaps more significantly, the social media behemoth is facing greater scrutiny over the possible harm that Facebook and Instagram may be causing to young children, particularly teens.
In response, Nick Clegg, a former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom who now serves as Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications, stated that the social media company intends to reduce the amount of political content in users’ feeds, favoring content from friends on the service. “More friends, less politics,” is the new matra.
According to Clegg, the move is part of Facebook’s strategy to “nudge” kids away from information that “may not be conducive to their well-being.” “Obviously, we’re going to introduce new restrictions for adults of kids on an opt-in basis, so that adults can monitor what their teens are doing online,” Clegg stated during a CNN interview.
“Secondly, we’ll be doing something that I believe will make a significant difference, which is preventing the teen from viewing the same video repeatedly.”
Clegg also mentioned that, in addition to stopping the Facebook Kids effort, the social media corporation is intending to implement a “take a break” function that will persuade adolescent users to take a vacation from Instagram.
The proposed adjustments come in response to devastating charges made by Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen, who leaked internal papers to the Wall Street Journal before eventually confessing on a 60 Minutes special. She recently testified before a Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Haugen, who worked at Facebook for around two years, published the documents after observing a conflict of interest at the corporation between what was best for the firm and what was best for the public.
“Facebook has repeatedly chosen to maximize for its own benefit,” Haugen stated.