Tip Sheets

Instagram safety tools no match for savvy underage users

Media Contact

Abby Butler

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri will testify before a Senate panel on Dec. 8 to defend the social media app from growing bipartisan outrage over its reported harms to young users.

Brooke Erin Duffy

Associate Professor of Communication

Brooke Erin Duffy, associate professor of communication, is an expert on social media platforms and studies the intersection of media, culture and technology. She says Instagram’s solutions recast responsibility from the company to its users. 

Duffy says:

“Instagram has long been mocked for its culture of excessive performativity and aspirationalism; however, the testimony of Frances Haugen and release of the Facebook files concretized these concerns. As a result, Instagram has been on the defensive for the past few months.  

“One well-timed response is the ‘Take a Break’ feature aimed at teens and their parents. But the opt-in nature of this feature allows Instagram to rely on a strategy that so many platform companies use: recasting responsibility from the company to its users. 

“Further, even if the company fulfills its promise of widely promoting the feature, teens can and will develop creative workarounds. From the creation of ‘finstas” to terms designed to evade algorithmic reporting, teens are savvy platform users and will strategize ways to remain on the platform if they so desire.” 


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