Tag Archives: Instagram

EU Launches Probe Into Meta Over Social Media Addiction In Children

Brussels has opened an in-depth probe into Meta over concerns it is failing to do enough to protect children from becoming addicted to social media platforms such as Instagram, Financial Times reported.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, announced on Thursday it would look into whether the Silicon Valley giant’s apps were reinforcing “rabbit hole” effects, where the users get drawn ever deeper into online feeds and topics.

EU investigators will also look into whether Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is complying with legal obligations to provide appropriate age-verification tools to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content. 

The probe is the second into the company under the EU’s Digital Services Act. The landmark legislation is designed to police content online, with sweeping new rules on the protection of minors. 

European Commission wrote: Today, the Commission has opened formal proceedings to assess whether Meta, the provider of Facebook and Instagram, may have breached the Digital Services Act (DSA) in areas linked to the protection of minors.

The Commission is concerned that the systems of both Facebook and Instagram, including their algorithms, may stimulate behavioural addictions in children, as well as create so-called ‘rabbit-hole effects.’ In addition, the Commission is also concerned about age-assurance and verification methods put in place by Meta.

The current proceedings address the following areas:

  • Meta’s compliance with DSA obligations on assessment and mitigation of risks caused by the design of Facebook’s and Instagram’s online interfaces, which may exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors and cause addictive behaviour and/or reinforce so-called ‘rabbit hole effect. Such an assessment is required to counter potential risks for the exercise of the fundamental right to the physical and mental well-being of children as well as to the respect of their rights.
  • Meta’s compliance with DSA requirements in relation to the mitigation measures to prevent access by minors to inappropriate content, notably age-verification tools used by Meta, which may not be reasonable, appropriate, proportionate and effective.
  • Meta’s compliance with DSA obligations to put in place appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure a high level of privacy, safety, and security for minors, particularly with regard to default privacy settings for minors as part of the design and functioning of their recommended systems.

The Guardian reported that a Meta spokesperson said: “We want young people to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online and have spent a decade developing more than 50 tools and policies designed to protect them. This is a challenge the whole industry is facing, and we look forward to sharing the details of our work with the European Commission.”

If the commission is not satisfied with Meta’s response, it can impose a fine equating to 6% of its global turnover. More immediately, it can carry out on-site investigations and interview company executives, with no deadline publicly fixed to complete the investigation.

In my opinion, parents with young children, who want to view Instagram, should sit down with them and act as a filter for content that is inappropriate for their kids. Clearly, Meta isn’t trying hard enough to keep children safe on their platform.

Meta Is Testing Messaging Capabilities For Threads

As Threads has grown to more than 130 million users, one of the major remaining “missing” features users often complain about is the lack of direct messaging abilities. But those missing out on DMs may soon have a new option to message other Threads users, Engadget reported.

Meta is starting to test messaging features that rely on Instagram’s inbox but allow new messages to be initiated from the Threads app. The feature has begun to appear for some Threads users, who report seeing a “message” button atop other users’ profiles where the “mention” feature used to be. A spokesman for Meta confirmed the change, saying the company was “testing the ability to send a message from Threads to Instagram.”

Of note, Threads still doesn’t have its own inbox, and it’s not clear if it ever will. Instagram head Adam Mosseri has said multiple times that he doesn’t want to create a separate inbox for Threads, but would rather “make the Instagram inbox work” in the app. A Meta spokesperson further confirmed that “this is not a test of the DMs on Threads.”

CNET reported that the “fediverse” is a collection of social media platforms that can talk to each other. Meta announced on March 21 that Threads would be joining the fediverse. With its more than 130 million monthly active subscribers. Threads is introducing millions of people to the fediverse.

According to CNET, the way you use your Threads account won’t change. It just means you’ll have more opportunities to share your posts more widely, particularly with another popular platform in the fediverse, Mastodon. Eagle-eyed Threads users recently spotted President Biden’s Threads account taking advantage of the new feature.

If you’re on Threads, you can now choose to opt into fediverse sharing. If you do, your Threads account and posts will be discoverable on all fediverse platforms, exposing your posts more widely. You can post on Threads, and people can like, reply, and repost on Mastodon.

Social Media Today reported this week, Meta launched a new live test of DMs on Threads, with some users seeing a new “Message” CTA button on Threads profiles.

According to Social Media Today, the Threads DM option will technically enable you to send messages to users via the app. But, that message won’t be via Threads itself. Instead, you’ll actually be sending your DM to their Instagram inbox.

It’s still a DM option within Threads, providing an advanced connection process within the app. But many will be disappointed that Threads isn’t getting its own DM inbox, which, as a replica of Twitter, would bring it more in line with Twitter’s functionality, and make it easier to use in a broader range of applications.

In my opinion, it’s good that Threads’ users can send DMs to people they know on Instagram. Unfortunately, as someone who uses Instagram (but not Threads), those messages feel like clutter.

Users Shocked To Find Instagram Limits Political Content By Default

Instagram users have started complaining on X (formerly Twitter) after discovering that Meta has begun limiting recommended political content by default, ArsTechnica reported.

Instagram apparently did not notify users directly on the platform when this change happened.

Instead, Instagram rolled out the change in February, announcing in a blog that the platform doesn’t “want to proactively recommend political content from accounts you don’t follow.” That post confirmed on Meta “won’t proactively recommend content about politics on recommendations surfaces across Instagram and Threads,” so that those platforms can remain “a great experience for everyone.”

“This change does not impact posts from accounts people choose to follow; it impacts what the system recommends, and people can control if they want more,” Meta’s spokesperson Dani Lever told ArsTechnica. “We have been working for years to show people less political content based on what they told us they want, and what posts they told us are political.”

To change the setting, users can navigate to Instagram’s menu for “settings and activity” in their profiles, where they can update their “content preferences.” On this menu, “political content” is the last item under a list of “suggested content” controls that allow users to set preferences for what content is recommended in their feeds.

CNET reported reported: If you’ve noticed less political content on Instagram, it’s not just you.

Back in February, Meta announced that it would not longer “proactively recommend political content from accounts you don’t follow.” That means you should still see political content from anyone you follow. And you’ll be limited in what political content you see from other accounts, whether that’s on the explore page, in your feed recommendations or on reels.

Seeing less political content from people you don’t follow isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could even be a good thing, if you tend to see a good amount of content that goes against your political leanings, CNET wrote.

Mashable reported it looks like Meta is distancing itself — and users — from political content even more.

According to Mashable, it’s easy to see why. Social media sites have been rife with misinformation and disinformation during past elections. It seems Meta’s response to these egregious mistakes is to make political content rarer on its platforms. Users have noticed that Instagram and Threads are quite literally putting limits on political content. On many user’s accounts, the settings were automatically set to “limit” users from seeing “political content”.

As Instagram describes, this decision affects all of the suggested posts in Explore, Reels, Feed Recommendations, and Suggested Users. “It does not affect the content from accounts you follow,” Instagram says.

“This announcement expands on years of work on how we approach and treat political content based on what people have told use they wanted,” Dani Lever, a Meta spokesperson, told Mashable. “And now, people are going to be able to control whether they would like to have these types of posts recommended to them.”

In my opinion, I really don’t want to see political posts on Instagram. That said, if you really want to see more political posts, there’s a way to make that happen if you go into Instagram’s settings.

Threads Is Rolling Out Trending Topics To All Users In The US

Threads, the Twitter-like app from Instagram, is rolling out its “trending now” feature widely to all users in the U.S. The official rollout comes a month after the app started testing the feature with a select number of users in the country. Trending topics are available on the search page and in the app’s For You Feed, TechCrunch reported.

In a Threads post, Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced the official launch and noted that the company sees it as “an easy way to see what others are talking about on Threads.”

The launch of trending topics will bring Threads more in-line with X, as it will allow users to find timely conversations that are taking place on the social network. Up until now, Threads has been lacking a real-time sense of community, and the introduction of trending topics could help remedy this as it lets you get an idea of what people are currently discussing outside of what you see in your own feeds.

According to TechCrunch, the feature is somewhat limited, as Threads only displays five trending topics at a time, while X shows you multiple. It’s possible that Threads may be limiting the number of trending topics to prevent issues around safety and spam.

Gizmodo reported Thread users in the United States will finally be able to see what topics are trending on the app, a longhand staple feature of Twitter, according to a post from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday. The “Trending Now” page appears under the search bar on Threads.

“Trending now is rolling out to the US today so you can see what people are talking about on Threads,” said Mark Zuckerberg in a post on Threads.

According to Gizmodo, Meta tested a trending page on Threads earlier this year called “Today’s Topics.” It appears the company shifted the name of the page to a more familiar name. The “Trending” page has been a staple of Twitter, Threads’ competitor, for years and it’s been highly cited as a missing feature of the Threads platform.

Meta launched Threads last summer, and it blew up in popularity with 49 million users in the first two days. Then all the hype faded away as many of those millions who signed up for the platform when it was first released just stopped using it. Since then, Meta continued to add new feature such as a web browser version, a retweet-like feature called reposts, and even an edit button. These features have made Threads a popular app once again, and Meta said last month that there are more users now than at launch.

Engadget reported Meta is finally providing a bit of visibility into what kinds of conversations are happening on its Twitter competitor, Threads. The service is rolling out its “trending now” feature to all US users, Mark Zuckerberg said in a post.

For now, the feature is still fairly limited. Threads only shows five trending topics at any one time, which is likely an attempt to keep the list relatively curated and avoid some of the issues that have plagued the feature on Twitter and now X.

In my opinion, it is probably good that Threads is attempting to provide users with new features while also curating what goes into trending topics. That might help keep the Meta’s social media alive for a while.

Instagram Announces New Messaging Improvements

Instagram wrote yesterday: We are excited to announce a number of new DM features to help you better connect with friends, making your messaging experiences more flexible and enjoyable. People connect daily on Instagram through posts and stories, but especially through messaging, so we’re excited to be bringing these new messaging features to Instagram.

Edit your messages

Whether it’s a typo or something just doesn’t sound right, you can now edit messages up to 15 minutes after sending. To make a change, press and hold on the sent message, then choose “edit” from the dropdown menu.

Pin chats to top of inbox

For chats with your best friends or family, or simply once you want at the top of your inbox, soon you’ll be able to pin up to 3 group or 1:1 chats for easy access.

To move a chat to the top of your inbox, swipe left or tap and hold on the chat, then tap “pin”. You can choose to unpin a thread at any time.

Toggle read receipts in DMs

Read receipts conveniently let other’s know you’ve read their message. Now, you can choose to turn read receipts on or off, for all of your chats or specific ones.

To turn it on or off for all chats:

Go to account settings
Tap Messages and story replies
Tap Show to read receipts
Toggle read receipts on or off for all of your chats

TechCrunch reported that the ability to edit your DMs lets you fix a typo or change things around if your message doesn’t quite sound right.

To edit a message, you need to press and hold it, and then choose “edit” from the drop-down menu. Once you edit a message, the purple text bubble will have an “Edited” label on top of it to notify the other person that the message has been changed.

According to TechCrunch, Instagram also recently started allowing all users to turn read receipts off, for all of their chats or specific ones. You can turn off read receipts for all chats by going into your account settings, tapping “Messages and story replies” and then clicking on the “Show read receipts” button and then toggling them off.

Meta (parent company of Instagram) reported you can now save your favorites stickers in DMs for easy access. Press and hold on the sticker you want to save and you’ll find them at the top next time you go to stickers.

Additionally, stickers, GIFs, videos, photos and voice messages are available when you reply to a message.

In my opinion, these new features are likely to make Instagram users eager to try them out. I think the stickers and GIFs will be well used, and the ability to toggle read receipts and to pin things to the top of your Instagram is a great idea.

Unsealed Complaint Says Meta “Coveted” Under-13s

An unsealed complaint in a lawsuit filed against Meta by 33 states alleges the company is not only aware that children under the age of 13 use its platforms, but has also “coveted and pursued” this demographic for years on Instagram, Engadget reported.

The document, which was first spotted by The New York Times, claims that Meta has long been dishonest about how it handles underage users’ accounts when they’re discovered, often failing to disable them when reported and continuing to harvest their data.

According to Engadget, the newly unsealed complaint, filed on Wednesday, reveals arguments that were previously redacted when attorneys generals from across the US first hit Meta with the lawsuit last month in the California federal court. It alleges that the presence of under-13s is an “open secret” at Meta.

Meta’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, proposed a requirement for parents to have approval power for downloads for kids under the age of 16.

Mashable reported Meta loves to decry that it does its best to protect children on its platform. After all, kids under 13 can’t even sign up for Instagram or Facebook because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 – but that doesn’t actually stop most kids from signing up because lying online is a classic American pastime.

And we know that Meta knows this, Mashable reported. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a congressional hearing in March 2021 that “there is clearly a large number of people under the age of 13 who would want to use a service like Instagram.” This is part of the reason the platform has considered creating Instagram Youth.

Meta told Mashable in an emailed statement that Instagram doesn’t allow users under the age of 13 to use the app and that it has “measures in place to remove these accounts when we identify them.”

PCMag reported that Meta has received 1.1 million reports of users under the age of 13 using Instagram since 2019; however, the company has opted to disable only a small fraction of those accounts, according to The New York Times.

A newly unsealed legal complaint brought against the company by the attorneys of 33 states shows that not only did Meta not delete the accounts, but the company, “routinely continued to collect” the children’s personal information, including their email addresses and phone numbers, without their parent’s permission, a violation of federal children’s privacy laws.

The complaint was filed last month in the US District Court for the Northern District of California by California, Colorado, and 31 other states.

In a statement Saturday to the New York Times, Meta says the complaint “mischaracterizes our work using selective quotes and cherry-picked documents.”

In my opinion, this is really bad news for Meta. It seems to me that allowing children to use Meta’s platforms – without the knowledge of the children’s parents – is not a good look for a company that should have known better.

Threads Users Can Keep Their Posts Off Instagram and Facebook

Many Threads users are now saying they have the ability to opt out of having their posts shown on Instagram and Facebook. To keep Threads posts from showing up on Meta’s other platforms, tap the two lines in the top right of the Threads app > Privacy > Suggesting pots on other apps – two switches let users turn off suggestions on Instagram or Facebook, The Verge reported.

According to The Verge, Meta tends to roll out Threads features slowly, so if you don’t see the new toggles yet, give it time.

Instagram and Facebook each got a “For you on Threads” carousel in the last few months. Responding to user grumpiness, Threads said in October it was “listening to feedback” shortly before testing the opt-out switch that’s rolling out now.

The Verge reported that the feature was clearly intended to drive engagement on Threads, as the platform seemed to be foundering after its impressive initial launch. But things look a lot better now. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on an earnings call last month that Threads now has almost 100 million monthly users. That’s still short of the “over half a billion monthly users” that Elon Musk recently claimed that X has, but its a good sign for Threads, just over four months into life.

9to5Mac reported that Meta first started showing these Threads suggestions on Facebook and Instagram in August. The carousels show Threads posts from people you’re associated with on Facebook or Instagram, with a quick link to open (or download) the Threads app and join the conversation.

“If your profile is public, your posts may be suggested on other apps so people can discover and follow you,” Meta explains.

However, this week Meta is now giving Threads users the option to opt out of having their posts appear as suggested content in Meta and Instagram.

PCMag reported that Meta undoubtedly made the decision to share posts by default on other platforms in order to drive engagement and interest in Threads while the service was new and gaining traction.

The idea being a friend of yours might see on Instagram that you’ve posted on Threads, then visit Threads for more. Testing for the feature began in August with Instagram showing Threads posts.

According to PCMag, last month, the company said its was “listening to feedback” from users who didn’t want their posts shared on Instagram and Twitter as well. The company offers a similar option on Instagram allowing you to opt in or our of sharing your posts on Facebook as well.

Personally, I find it interesting that Meta didn’t take into account that there will always be some people who join a social media app and immediately make their accounts private. This is super important for the company to recognize, and it makes sense that Meta is now allowing Threads users to opt-out of having their posts appear on Instagram and Facebook.