What we learned from Instagram head’s Congress testimony

Adam Mosseri, who took over Instagram in 2018, appeared in front of Congress for the first time last night. The company came under major scrutiny after a series of reports from the Wall Street Journal published earlier this year highlighted the firm’s negligence toward teen mental health.

Ex-Meta employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen said last month Instagram was “more dangerous than other forms of social media.”

All of this led to lawmakers being concerned about the social media firm’s lack of actions to protect kids online. In October, Senator Richard Blumenthal had called for Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on the issue, but said Mosseri could appear instead.

Here are the six major talking points about the hearing, and why you should care about all this.

Criticism of Instagram’s last-minute tools rollout

Hours before the Congress hearing started, Instagram dropped a blog post detailing its efforts towards teen safety. The company said that it will introduce parental control tools early next year. This will give guardians an option to set time limits on the app for their wards.

Plus, the company will introduce an educational hub for parents to teach them about the intricacies of Instagram, so they can understand how the app works.

For teens, it will launch a bulk delete option in January — for posts, comments, and likes — so they don’t have to keep seeing how they looked or what they liked, years after the fact. Other measures that are coming up include, include control over tagging, tighter handling of recommendations, and nudging teens towards different topics if they’re getting too deep in a rabbit hole about a specific topic.

While these tools seem important, they drew scrutiny at the hearing. Blumenthal said, “These changes seem like PR moves because they were announced hours before the hearing.” He pointed out that these tools should’ve been introduced years ago, and since many of them are in testing, we don’t know when they’ll reach users.