After facing scrutiny over how its app affects young people, Instagram is launching some new features, including one encouraging users to take breaks.
Instagram on Tuesday announced that it's rolling out this new "Take a Break" feature in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. "If someone has been scrolling for a certain amount of time," Instagram head Adam Mosseri said, "we'll ask them to take a break from Instagram and suggest that they set reminders to take more breaks in the future." The app will also show users "expert-backed tips to help them reflect and reset."
The new feature comes after The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook researchers found Instagram is harmful for a "sizable percentage" of users, "most notably teenage girls." Mosseri on Tuesday said Instagram will ensure teens are aware of the Take a Break feature by showing them notifications "suggesting they turn these reminders on," as the feature won't automatically be activated. After testing the feature, CNN wrote that it has "room for improvement," noting the timer tracking how long a user has been on Instagram resets when the app is briefly closed.
Instagram also announced a number of other new safety features Tuesday, with Mosseri saying the app will "stop people from tagging or mentioning teens that don't follow them," as well as be "stricter" about what it recommends teens and start "nudging" them toward different topics if they've been "dwelling" on one for too long. The company will launch new tools for parents, allowing them to set time limits dictating how much time their teens can spend on Instagram, Mosseri also said.
The announcement also comes a day before Mosseri is scheduled to testify before Congress, and a spokesperson for Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) suggested to The Washington Post that Instagram's announcement was an attempt to "draw attention away from things they don't want highlighted at Wednesday's hearing."