Multinational technology conglomerate Meta announced this week (January 9th) that it will be hiding inappropriate content such as posts about suicide, self-harm and eating disorders from teenagers’ accounts on both Facebook and Instagram.
According to the Independent, the company already strives to avoid recommending this kind of age-inappropriate material to this demographic, but it will also now ensure that it doesn’t show up in feeds, even if it’s been shared by a followed account.
Teenagers will also see their Facebook and Instagram accounts placed on the most restrictive settings possible, with blocks set up so that they’re unable to search for potentially harmful terms.
The move comes in the wake of dozens of lawsuits from various US states accusing the tech giant of causing harm to young people, as well as contributing to the youth mental health crisis by deliberately designing certain addictive features on its platforms.
In a blog post, Meta said that it wants teenagers to have “safe, age-appropriate experiences” when using the apps, adding: “Take the example of someone posting about their ongoing struggle with thoughts of self-harm. This is an important story and can help destigmatize these issues, but it’s a complex topic and isn’t necessarily suitable for all young people.
“Now, we’ll start to remove this type of content from teens’ experiences on Instagram and Facebook, as well as other types of age-inappropriate content.”
However, critics have suggested that these moves are insufficient. Josh Golin of children’s online advocacy group Fairplay, for example, described the announcement as “yet another desperate attempt to avoid regulation”. He went on to ask that if Meta is indeed able to hide this kind of content, why has it waited till now to do so.
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