Facebook unveils new controls for kids using its platforms

  • FILE - In this June 4, 2012, file photo, an unidentified 11-year-old girl logs into Facebook on her iPhone at her home in Palo Alto, Calif. Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and 'œnudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being.

    FILE - In this June 4, 2012, file photo, an unidentified 11-year-old girl logs into Facebook on her iPhone at her home in Palo Alto, Calif. Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and 'œnudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, file photo, former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaks during a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and "nudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via AP, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, file photo, former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaks during a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and "nudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via AP, Pool, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - This Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo shows application icons from left, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Messenger Kids on an iPhone in New York, Messenger Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and 'nudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being.

    FILE - This Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo shows application icons from left, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Messenger Kids on an iPhone in New York, Messenger Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and 'nudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being. Associated Press

  • FILE- In this Feb. 16, 2018, file photo, Facebook's Messenger Kids app is displayed on an iPhone in New York. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and other groups are asking the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday, Oct. 3, to investigate Facebook's Messenger Kids for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and "nudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being.

    FILE- In this Feb. 16, 2018, file photo, Facebook's Messenger Kids app is displayed on an iPhone in New York. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and other groups are asking the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday, Oct. 3, to investigate Facebook's Messenger Kids for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and "nudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/11/2021 6:35 AM

NEW YORK -- Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and 'œnudging" teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being.

The Menlo Park, California-based Facebook is also planning to introduce new controls for adults of teens on an optional basis so that parents or guardians can supervise what their teens are doing online. These initiatives come after Facebook announced late last month that it was pausing work on its Instagram for Kids project. But critics say the plan lacks details and they are skeptical that the new features would be effective.

 

The new controls were outlined on Sunday by Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs, who made the rounds on various Sunday news shows including CNN's 'œState of the Union" and ABC's 'œThis Week with George Stephanopoulos" where he was grilled about Facebook's use of algorithms as well as its role in spreading harmful misinformation ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

'œWe are constantly iterating in order to improve our products,' Clegg told Dana Bash on 'œState of the Union" Sunday. 'œWe cannot, with a wave of the wand, make everyone's life perfect. What we can do is improve our products, so that our products are as safe and as enjoyable to use."

Clegg said that Facebook has invested $13 billion over the past few years in making sure to keep the platform safe and that the company has 40,000 people working on these issues. And while Clegg said that Facebook has done its best to keep harmful content out of its platforms, he says he was open for more regulation and oversight.

'œWe need greater transparency,' he told CNN's Bash. He noted that the systems that Facebook has in place should be held to account, if necessary, by regulation so that 'œpeople can match what our systems say they're supposed to do from what actually happens.'

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The flurry of interviews came after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former data scientist with Facebook, went before Congress last week to accuse the social media platform of failing to make changes to Instagram after internal research showed apparent harm to some teens and of being dishonest in its public fight against hate and misinformation. Haugen's accusations were supported by tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in the company's civic integrity unit.

Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, a watchdog for the children and media marketing industry, said that he doesn't think introducing controls to help parents supervise teens would be effective since many teens set up secret accounts any way. He was also dubious about how effective nudging teens to take a break or move away from harmful content would be. He noted Facebook needs to show exactly how they would implement it and offer research that shows these tools are effective.

'œThere is tremendous reason to be skeptical," he said. He added that regulators need to restrict what Facebook does with its algorithms.

He said he also believes that Facebook should cancel its Instagram project for kids.

When Clegg was grilled by both Bash and Stephanopoulos in separate interviews about the use of algorithms in amplifying misinformation ahead of Jan. 6 riots, he responded that if Facebook removed the algorithms people would see more, not less hate speech, and more, not less, misinformation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Clegg told both hosts that the algorithms serve as 'œgiant spam filters."

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, told Bash in a separate interview Sunday that it's time to update children's privacy laws and offer more transparency in the use of algorithms.

'œI appreciate that he is willing to talk about things, but I believe the time for conversation is done," said Klobuchar, referring to Clegg's plan. 'œThe time for action is now.'

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