Facebook: How Meta Is Working to Provide Safe, Age-Appropriate Experiences for Teens

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Facebook: How Meta Is Working to Provide Safe, Age-Appropriate Experiences for Teens

Over the past several years, we’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families on our apps. Last month, we held our first Meta Summit focused on Youth Safety and Well-Being to discuss this work. Safety advocates, mental health experts, educators, think tank researchers, policy writers and parents — many of whom helped inform the development of these tools — gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss challenges families face in the digital age and explore opportunities to better serve teens and families:

  • Partners Michael Preston from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Jason Yip from the University of Washington Information School, Vicki Shotbolt from Parentzone and Lucy Thomas from Project Rockit reinforced the importance of working with parents, teens and experts in order to offer experiences that meet teens’ unique needs and help facilitate dialogue between teens and their families about social media use.
  • Experts Larry Magid from ConnectSafely, Chris Wood from LGBT Tech, Richard Culatta from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Michelle Lipkin from the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) and Kathryn Hill from Media Smarts addressed What Parents Need to Know, amplifying the tips, tricks, and resources available to parents worried about their teens’ time online.
  • Researchers Dr. Linda Charmaraman from the Youth, Media and Wellbeing Research Lab at Wellesley College and Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs from the Center for Appearance Research at UWE Bristol joined Instagram’s Director of Product Management for Well-Being Sayed Otaru to give a deep dive into the latest external research on social media and teens’ mental well-being, and the ways in which Meta is continuing to develop innovative features, including those informed by this research.
  • Emily Dalton Smith, Meta’s Vice President of Product Management and Social Impact, walked us through changes Meta has made to improve the experience for teens and their parents online.
  • Julie Dawson from Yoti joined Meta Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan to discuss the innovative ways tech companies are trying to respond to the challenges inherent to online age assurances and verification and the importance of Meta and other technology companies getting it right.

Watch a full recording of the Summit.

Working Together with Policymakers

At the Summit, Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, called for global policymakers and regulators to work together on clear, consistent regulation when it comes to providing safe, age-appropriate experiences for young people online.

Nick said: “I think everybody has a role… social media companies have a role, families have a role, parents have a role, governments have a role, regulators have a role. This is a space where I think it is totally legitimate and normal for regulators to act.”

He continued: “The European Union and the United States have tried to establish various fora by which key decision makers of the regulatory agencies in DC and the regulatory agencies in Brussels meet together (…)  the more they could do that with their counterparts, like India, it would be a very good thing for this agenda.”

We support regulators across the globe working together to establish clear, consistent laws that adapt to ever-evolving technologies, so they can be implemented successfully by companies across our industry. We’re hopeful that continued regulation in this area will seek to preserve teens’ rights to be online, while creating safe, supportive environments for them to express themselves.

Supporting Safe Online Experiences for Teens Across the Internet

We haven’t waited for regulation to continue making progress on our apps. Over the past several years, we’ve taken significant steps, including:

While we continue this work in the absence of consistent and clear regulation, we also advocate for industry working together on these issues so that all tech companies across the internet adhere to certain principles when it comes to young people. For youth specifically, we have consistently called for an industry body to address at least three key challenges:

  1. How to verify age: so that young children can’t access apps not made for them and that teens can have consistent, age-appropriate experiences
  2. How to provide age-appropriate experiences: so that teens can expect similarly safe experiences across all apps that are tailored to their age and life-stage
  3. How to build parental controls: so that parents and guardians have the tools to navigate online experiences for their teens together

We believe parents and teens should have consistent experiences across all apps, not just on Meta’s. As our work on this is never done, we hope to continue working with other tech companies — as we have done on other initiatives like those preventing the proliferation of child sexual abuse material or the sale of illicit drugs — so teens can expect online experiences that are safe and supportive across the internet.

We want social media to be a positive force in teens’ lives, so we’re listening to feedback from experts and our community to build apps where teens can discover and create in an age-appropriate way. As we embark on a new year, we will continue building experiences so young people can foster their relationships in a safer, more supportive environment.

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