Instagram Adds A New Take A Break Feature, In Order To Help Spare Teenagers From Toxic Content On The Platform

Instagram is working on a new “take a break” feature, with the intended result being to help and gently veer teenagers away from harmful content on the platform, as reported by CNN.

These remarks come in the wake of a newly turbulent time for Instagram and indeed its parent company Facebook. Ex Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen has recently gone public with a slew of evidence and statements, claiming that the social network and its sister sites actively promote content that can lead to mental health issues and controversy. The algorithm, says Ms. Haugen, is one that bumps up such stirring content, based on the amount of engagement and reach that it gets. While it’s quite easy to call Haugen out for these recent comments of hers, labelling her as bitter or a traitor, there’s quite a lot to consider. The circumstances aren’t in her favor, as Ms. Haugen’s not asking for financial compensation. This isn’t an individual who got fired, they left of their own accord. The only sane reason that Frances Haugen would butt heads with Facebook without any tangible reward in sight is that she’s telling the truth. Haugen’s work as a monitor of election data on the platform also gave her a good seat for watching all of the hate and vitriol that develops on the platform.

At any rate, Facebook’s first response was to actively denounce the claims as insincere and false. The second, apparently, is to announce this new feature. Instagram’s a platform that’s more popular with the current youth than Facebook is, and therefore seems like a perfect place to market the next “mental health sparing” feature. Take a break will work as such: if young individuals, especially teenagers, will constantly be coming into contact with posts and content that could be triggering or damaging, Instagram will reveal a prompt, urging them to not do so.

I’m sure Instagram and its developers shared a lot of high fives and hugs as they came up with this incredible, ingenious plan to stop hate content in its tracks. Waiting until teenagers engage with such content more than once, and afterwards holding up a hand and saying “um, please don’t.” Of course, when this author says ingenious, they mean the laziest cop out this side of the social network. While developers run around haplessly, refusing to change their algorithm and instead placing all of the pressure to do better on impressionable youngsters, another anti-vaxxer account gets a hundred more followers. Another racist gets their reach on the platform increased.

It’s an unenviable and difficult situation to be in, admittedly. However, this response is not just unacceptable, it is incompetent and bare-facedly displays just how out of touch upper management is.

Read next: Instagram Is Adding A Toned Down Version Of Live To The Platform, And May Allow Profiles To Be Embedded
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