Meta said the new Nighttime Nudge feature will remind teens that it’s late when using the app after 10pm.
Instagram is introducing what it calls Nighttime Nudges for teenage users to encourage them to close the app at night.
Parent company Meta announced in an update yesterday (18 January) that the nighttime nudges will show up when teens have spent more than 10 minutes on Instagram “in places like Reels or direct messages” late at night.
While the Meta update made no mention of time, the company told TechCrunch in an email that the nudges will be shown automatically after 10pm and can’t be turned off, meaning that teens using the app cannot opt out of the feature.
“Sleep is important, particularly for young people,” Meta wrote in its update. “[Nighttime nudges] will remind teens that it’s late, and encourage them to close the app.”
Instagram has been criticised for not doing enough to prevent some of the alleged damage the platform causes to younger users, such as exposure to interactions with strangers raising safety concerns as well as the time-consuming nature of the app.
Last week, Meta introduced a set of new policies aimed at safeguarding teen users on Instagram and Facebook. They came in the shadow of a massive lawsuit against Meta, TikTok and YouTube in relation to child safety on their platforms.
However, Meta whistleblower Arturo Béjar said there was still no way for a teen to flag an unwanted advance on Instagram or Facebook.
“These changes rely on the ‘grade your own homework’ definitions of harm, which does not address 99pc of the harmful content they recommend to teens,” Béjar said.
“The harm that teens experience online will not be reduced until social media companies commit to publicly disclosing and setting goals to reduce the number of times teens experience harm on their products.”
This is not the first time the platform has run into trouble with its critics.
In 2021, more than 250 international academics signed an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressing concern that the company’s internal research on potential harms to adolescents caused by its platforms is poorly designed and secretive.
They argued that Instagram’s internal research does not “meet the high scientific standards required” and urged the company to accept independent oversight. “Sound science must come before firm conclusions are drawn or new tools are launched,” it went on.
Soon after, Instagram introduced new tools and features including updated privacy rules and tools for parents and a Take a Break feature. “It’s important to me that people feel good about the time they spend on Instagram,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri said at the time.
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