Facebook and Instagram launch major overhaul to stop people using them so much

Host of new features are aimed at making people’s relationship with the apps more healthy

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 01 August 2018 10:08
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Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky lists previous examples of Facebook apologies

Facebook and Instagram are launching major changes to stop people using them so much.

Both apps and sites are getting a whole host of new features intended to make sure that people use them in a healthy way.

They include a special dashboard, which will show all of the time users have spent on both apps, reminders that will pop up when people have been on them for too long and the option to mute notifications so that people can take a break from the site entirely.

The new features come amid growing concern about the way that social media apps like Facebook and Instagram damage the people who use them.

And they come amid similar tools being launched from other tech companies including Apple and Google.

Facebook said that the new tools had been developed “based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organisations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community”.

They can be accessed by heading into the settings page on either app. On Instagram, they are found by clicking the “Your Activity” button, while on Facebook the option is called “Your Time on Facebook”.

Inside that page is the dashboard that shows activity, as well as various options that are intended to make sure people feel they can control how that time is spent. You can either set daily reminders about when to log off or turn off notifications for a set amount of time, for instance.

The feature as it will appear on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook has been trying to stress that it is intended to be a place where people feel like their time has been well spent. Bosses, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have committed to make fundamental changes to the way the platform works to try and stop it hurting the people who use it.

The changes were welcomed by groups including the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

“We are keen for social media companies to be part of the solution when it comes to making their platforms more positive places for mental health and wellbeing, so it is very encouraging to see Facebook and Instagram taking steps in the right direction by implementing these measures,” said Ed Morrow, external affairs manager at RSPH.

But many noted that the sites still has a long way to go in addressing the various problems they can inflict on young people.

“Facebook and Instagram state they want to ensure their platforms are safe but to do so they need to tackle serious problems within their sites,” said Laura Randall, NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online.

The updates will roll out “soon” on both Facebook and Instagram.

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