Instagram gives you more control over what you see.
Instagram on Thursday launched a new set of features that helps you manage what you see in your feed and silence notifications.
The changes on Instagram, which include the option to hide posts containing any keywords users choose (such as “fitness” or “diets”), appear to seek to address concerns raised by policymakers about the platform’s impact on teens in the wake of internal documents shared by former Meta employee Frances Haugen.
The new settings include Quiet mode, which allows users to set a customized schedule to silence Instagram notifications and auto-respond to direct messages (DMs). The app will automatically prompt teens to enable quiet mode when they spend a “specific amount of time” browsing the app at night.
Instagram announced parental controls in 2021, but the platform is now taking steps to allow further control over user feeds — and to give parents more insight into their children’s Instagram habits.
Users will now be able to filter out posts with specific words in their captions and hashtags. Instagram had already allowed users to filter out DMs with a self-made list of potentially harmful or offensive content, but the expanded filtering option will allow users to tailor their feeds on a more granular level than before.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2021 that internal research at Facebook had found significant harmful effects of its products on a relatively small portion of teen users. Haugen later revealed herself to be the source behind the documents shared with the Journal.
“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” researchers wrote, according to the Journal. Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, according to the report, 13% of British users and 6% of American users connected the issue back to Instagram.
At the time, Instagram’s head of public policy wrote in a blog post that though the article highlighted “a limited set of findings” it stands by the research, which they said shows “mixed” findings on whether social media is good or bad for users. The company promised it was working on ways to minimize harmful effects, including by “addressing negative social comparison and negative body image.”
Facebook renamed itself Meta in 2021 as part of a campaign to overhaul its image with a focus on virtual reality and the metaverse.
Lawmakers in Congress and at the state level have increased their focus on how to protect kids’ well-being online by imposing new requirements on platforms. Although there have yet to be changes codified at the national level, California recently enacted its Age-Appropriate Design Code, which requires platforms to consider how their services could pose a danger to minors and forces them to turn on the strictest privacy settings by default. The state is currently facing a lawsuit from tech industry group NetChoice, which argues the law infringes on First Amendment rights and could potentially harm minors by limiting their access to important resources.
Quiet mode will initially be available in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.