Meta Updates Policies to Protect Teens on Social Media

Explore Meta’s latest updates to safeguard teens on Facebook and Instagram. Discover the changes, expert opinions, legal challenges, and more in our comprehensive guide.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
Meta is auto-enrolling teens into the most restrictive content control settings on Facebook and Instagram.
Searches related to self-harm and eating disorders will no longer show results, directing users to expert resources.
Over 40 states have sued Meta, and there's ongoing public debate about social media's impact on teen mental health.

Meta Introduces New Measures to Safeguard Teens on Social Media

Meta Platforms, Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has announced a series of updates to safeguard teens on its platforms. These measures come amid increasing regulatory pressure and concerns about the impact of social media on youth mental health.

Evolving Policies for Teen Safety

Dr. Rachel Rodgers, Associate Professor at Northeastern University, highlights that Meta’s evolving policies aim to make social media a safer, more age-appropriate space for teens. The changes reflect expert guidance on teen safety and well-being​​.

Content Recommendation and Restriction Updates

Meta is implementing significant changes to Instagram and Facebook:

  • Automatic Placement in Restrictive Settings: Teens will be automatically placed in the most restrictive content control settings on both platforms, expanding on the existing protocol for new teen users​​​​.
  • Hiding Sensitive Search Results: Searches related to suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders will show hidden results, directing users to expert resources instead​​​​.

Reactions and Context

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor, acknowledges the steps as positive but notes challenges in policing actual ages of users on these platforms. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has previously warned about social media’s risks to youth mental health​​.

Criticism and Legal Challenges

Meta faces criticism for its handling of content affecting teens. Whistleblower Frances Haugen testified in 2021 about the company’s knowledge of these issues. Moreover, over 40 states have filed lawsuits against Meta, accusing it of creating addictive products harmful to children​​​​.

Comparison with Competitors

Meta’s efforts also come in the backdrop of its competition with TikTok. A 2023 Pew Research Center survey showed 63% of U.S. teens using TikTok compared to 59% for Instagram and 33% for Facebook, highlighting the shifting preferences among young users​​.

As Meta rolls out these changes, it’s crucial for parents, educators, and teens themselves to stay informed and engage in open dialogues about the safe and responsible use of social media. The impact of these policies on teen mental health and social media consumption patterns will be an important area to monitor in the coming months and years.

Marilyn Walters

Marilyn Walters is a seasoned news journalist with over two years of experience in the field. Known for her investigative reporting and insightful analysis, Marilyn has covered significant global events with an objective lens. Her relentless pursuit of truth and dedication to journalistic integrity have established her as a respected voice in today's dynamic news landscape.

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