A Facebook executive said that the company would introduce new measures on its apps to prompt teens away from harmful content as US lawmakers scrutinise how Facebook and subsidiaries like Instagram affect young people's mental health.
Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, also expressed openness to the idea of letting regulators have access to Facebook algorithms that are used to amplify content.
But Clegg said he could not answer the question whether its algorithms amplified the voices of people who had attacked the US Capitol.
When asked by CNN's State of the Union host Dana Bash whether the algorithms amplified pro-insurrection voices ahead of the January 6 attack, Clegg said: "I can't give you a yes or no answer to the individual, personalised feeds that each person uses."
He also claimed that if the ranking algorithm was removed, people would see even more hate-speech and misinformation on their feeds.
The algorithms "should be held to account, if necessary, by regulation so that people can match what our systems say they're supposed to do from what actually happens," Clegg said.
He spoke days after former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testified on Capitol Hill about how the company entices users to keep scrolling, harming teens' well-being.
"We're going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference, which is where our systems see that the teenager is looking at the same content over and over again and it's content which may not be conducive to their well-being, we will nudge them to look at other content," Clegg told CNN.
In addition, "we're introducing something called, 'take a break,' where we will be prompting teens to just simply just take a break from using Instagram," Clegg said.
US senators last week grilled Facebook execs on its plans to better protect young users on its apps, drawing on leaked internal research showing the social media giant is aware of how its Instagram app damages the mental health of young people.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, has argued for more regulation against technology companies like Facebook.
"I'm just tired of hearing 'trust us', and it's time to protect those moms and dads that have been struggling with their kids getting addicted to the platform and been exposed to all kinds of bad stuff," Klobuchar told CNN on Sunday after Clegg's interview.
The United States also should update children's privacy laws and its competition policy, and require tech companies to make their algorithms more transparent, Klobuchar said.
Clegg noted that Facebook had recently put on hold its plans for developing Instagram Kids, aimed at pre-teens, and was introducing new optional controls for adults to supervise teens.
Meanwhile the social media giants apologised to users for a two hour disruption to its services on Saturday, NZ time, blaming another faulty configuration change for its second global outage in a week.
The company confirmed its social media platform, Instagram, Messenger and Workplace were impacted by the latest outage.
"Sincere apologies to anyone who wasn't able to access our products in the last couple of hours," the company said. "We fixed the issue, and everything should be back to normal now."
During the latest outage, some users were unable to load their Instagram feeds, while others were not able to send messages on Facebook Messenger.
People swiftly took to Twitter to share memes and jokes about the second service disruption this week. "Looks like Facebook went to a three-day work week. Monday and Friday shutdowns?" a Twitter user said.
Instagram thanked users for their patience and "for all the memes this week".
Last Tuesday, NZ time, the company blamed a "faulty configuration change" for a nearly six-hour outage that prevented the company's 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.
The outage was the largest that web monitoring group Downdetector had ever seen and blocked access to the apps for billions of users, leading to a surge in usage of rival social media and messaging apps. read more
Moscow officials said the outage showed Russia was right to develop its own social media networks, while EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager highlighted the repercussions of relying on just a few big players, underscoring the need for more rivals.
Reuters / Newshub