Instagram Head Calls For Industry Body To Regulate Online Safety For Youth

Instagram Head Adam Mosseri, speaking before a Senate panel, said a industry body should be formed with input from civil society, parents, and regulators to create standards on age verification, age-appropriate experiences, and parental controls.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri on Wednesday urged the creation of an industry body to determine best practices to help keep young people safe online, in his first appearance before Congress.

Mosseri, speaking before a Senate panel, said the industry body should receive input from civil society, parents, and regulators to create standards on how to verify age, design age-appropriate experiences, and build parental controls.

Photo-sharing app Instagram and its parent company Meta Platforms Inc, formerly Facebook, have come under intense scrutiny over the potential impact of their services on the mental health, body image and online safety of young users.

Mosseri said companies like Instagram "should have to adhere to these standards to earn some of our Section 230 protections," referring to a key US internet law which offers tech platforms protections from liability over content posted by users.

Lawmakers, who have held a series of hearings on children's online safety, said they wanted to discuss legislative reforms and solutions to protect kids online from harmful content, abuses and exploitative practices, including around the algorithms used by tech platforms.

In his opening remarks, Senator Richard Blumenthal said the time for self-regulation was over.

Instagram, since September, has suspended plans for a version of the app for kids, amid growing opposition to the project. The pause followed a Wall Street Journal report that said internal documents, leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, showed the company knew Instagram could have harmful mental health effects on teens.

Mosseri, speaking at the hearing, echoed the company's previous statements that public reporting mischaracterized the internal research.

He also touted product announcements Instagram made on Tuesday on young users' safety, including that it would be stricter about the types of content it recommends to teens, and would switch off the ability for people to tag or mention teens who do not follow them on the app.

It also launched a time management feature to remind users to take a break from the app and said it would introduce parental controls next year.

In her opening remarks, Senator Marsha Blackburn called the updates "too little too late," while Senator Blumenthal referred to the changes, like Instagram's pause on its kids app, as a "public relations tactic."Instagram, like other social media sites, has rules against children under 13 joining the platform but has said it knows it has users this age.

In his testimony, Mosseri called for more age verification technology at a phone level, rather than by individual tech platforms, so users have an "age-appropriate experience."