Meta Platforms announced its plans to enhance content restrictions for teens on Instagram and Facebook in response to mounting global regulatory pressure aimed at safeguarding children from harmful content.
Meta revealed that all teenagers will be placed under the most stringent content control settings on both platforms, with Instagram set to limit additional search terms. This move aims to minimize the exposure of sensitive content related to topics such as suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders when utilizing features like Search and Explore on Instagram.
The company stated that these measures, expected to be implemented over the forthcoming weeks, are intended to curate a more “age-appropriate” experience for young users.
Meta finds itself under intensifying scrutiny in both the United States and Europe, facing allegations that its apps are addictive and have contributed to a crisis in youth mental health.
In October, attorneys general from 33 U.S. states, including California and New York, filed a lawsuit against Meta, alleging repeated deception of the public about the risks associated with its platforms.
In Europe, the European Commission has sought clarification on Meta’s strategies for shielding children from illegal and harmful content.
The heightened regulatory attention followed testimony in the U.S. Senate by a former Meta employee, Arturo Bejar, who claimed that the company was aware of the harassment and other harms faced by teens on its platforms but failed to take appropriate action, Reuters news report said.
Bejar emphasized the necessity for design alterations on Facebook and Instagram to encourage positive behaviors among users and provide improved tools for young individuals to manage unpleasant experiences.
Expressing his dissatisfaction with Meta’s recent changes, Bejar criticized the company for relying on subjective definitions of harm and for lacking a simple mechanism for teens to report unwanted interactions.
The competition between Meta and TikTok for young users has intensified in recent years, with the usage of Facebook, once dominant among teens, steadily declining. A Pew Research Center survey from 2023 revealed that 63 percent of U.S. teens reported using TikTok, 59 percent using Instagram, while only 33 percent reported using Facebook, signaling a significant shift in preferences among younger demographics.