Connect with us


Key Takeaways From Instagram’s Congressional Hearing: IG for Kids Still Possible, Chronological Feed to Return



Instagram’s Head also proposed the formation of a new industry body that would set safety standards for social-media platforms to help protect younger children online. 

Chronological Feeds Making a Comeback

Instagram Head Adam Mosseri testified before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security on Wednesday amid concerns over the app’s effects on children’s mental health. 

Perhaps most unexpectedly, Mosseri announced during the meeting that the platform will bring back chronological feeds sometime at the start of next year. 

While Instagram originally featured a chronological scrolling format, it abandoned the layout in 2016 in favor of an algorithmic feed. At the time, the move was highly unpopular with a number of users. 

Later Wednesday, Instagram confirmed the update on Twitter.

Instagram for Kids Still Not Off the Table

In response to a line of questioning from subcommittee chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), Mosseri refused to commit to fully scrapping a kid-friendly version of Instagram.

“The idea of building a version of Instagram for 10-12 years olds was trying to solve a problem, the idea being that we know that 10-12 years olds are online, [that] they wanna use platforms like Instagram,” Mosseri said. “And its difficult for companies like ours to verify age for those that are so young that don’t yet have an ID.” 

“What I can commit to today, is that no child between the ages of 10 of 12, should we ever manage to build Instagram for 10- to 12-year-olds, will have access to that without their explicit parental consent.”  

In part, controversy surrounding “Instagram for Kids” essentially spurred this hearing and several others in the past few months.

In September, The Wall Street Journal published leaked whistleblower documents that exposed internal research at Instagram and its parent company Facebook, now known as Meta. Key documents showed that Meta knew Instagram was harmful to millions of teens, most notably teen girls with body-image issues. 

Following widespread backlash, Instagram indefinitely paused plans to launch its kid-friendly version of the app, but even up to Wednesday, it has not agreed to completely kill the idea.

Mosseri did suggest the formation of a new industry body to set safety standards for social-media platforms, saying it could help protect younger children online. 

He also attempted to walk back research that claims Instagram specifically can be addictive and bad for mental health, saying he doesn’t believe research shows that social media drives a rise in suicides. 

Sen. Blackburn’s JoJo Siwa Connection

During questioning, ranking Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn caught Mosseri off guard by asking him why he didn’t reprimand singer JoJo Siwa after she told him she joined Instagram at no older than 9-years-old during a June interview. 

“I know you’re not supposed to have Instagram till you’re 13 — I did. I had an account,” Siwa, who had recently turned 18 at the time, told Mosseri.

“I don’t wanna hear that,” Mosseri said. 

“You didn’t hear that,” Siwa jokingly responded. “Nobody else heard that.” 

Referencing that interview, Blackburn said Wednesday, “In your testimony, you said you removed more than 850,000 accounts because they did not meet your minimum age requirement.”

These accounts were disabled because the users did not provide identification showing that they were at least 13 years old, so why did you say you didn’t want to know when JoJo Siwa said she had been on Instagram since she was 8-years-old? Is that your general attitude toward kids who are on your platform?” 

“We invest a lot to try and identify those under the age of 13, and whenever we find them—” Mosseri attempted to respond before being cut off by Blackburn.

“Okay, at that moment, when you responded to her that you did not want to know, why didn’t you use that as a teaching moment?” she asked.

“Senator, I would say it was a missed opportunity,” Mosseri said. 

“Indeed, it was a missed opportunity and it sends the wrong message,” Blackburn said.

While some have pushed back against Blackburn’s tactic and line of argumentation specifically, both Democrats and Republicans alike continued to grill Moe-serry throughout the hearing. 

See what others are saying: (Axios) (New York Post) (The Verge)


TikTok to Require Labels on Manipulated Media, Ban Deepfakes of Children



The social media platform says it wants to embrace the creativity AI can offer while being cautious of the “societal and individual risks” that come with it.

TikTok is rolling out a slew of limitations regarding synthetic deepfake videos, including a ban on deepfake content of children.

In an update on Tuesday, the social media platform said it wants welcome “the creativity that new artificial intelligence and other digital technologies may unlock” while also being careful of the “societal and individual risks” that come with it. To mitigate those risks, TikTok will require users to label manipulated media depicting “realistic scenes.” Users can do so in stickers, captions, or other means that make it clear the video is “synthetic,” “fake,” “not real,” or “altered.”

On top of that, there are new restrictions about who can be the subject of these manipulated videos. TikTok will not allow deepfake media that shows the likeness of a “young person” or any private person, including adults. It is also barring deepfakes that depict adult public figures giving political or commercial endorsements, as well as deepfakes that violate one of the platform’s other rules.

“While we provide more latitude for public figures, we do not want them to be the subject of abuse, or for people to be misled about political or financial issues,” the company’s updated guidelines say. 

As TikTok’s policies previously stated, synthetic media that has been edited to mislead audiences about real-world events is also not allowed on the platform. 

As far as what kind of deepfake media is allowed on TikTok, the company said videos showing adult public figures in “certain contexts, including artistic and educational content,” get the green light. This can include a video of a celebrity doing a TikTok dance, or a historical figure being depicted in a history lesson. 

The rules will be enforced starting April 21. Between now and then, TikTok says it will be training its moderators to better implement the guidelines.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Associated Press) (TechCrunch)

Continue Reading


Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades



Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company. 

Yeezy Surplus 

Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years. 

Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.

According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes. 

On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.

“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press. 

However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.

The Numbers 

Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million. 

If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.

Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.

As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval. 

Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company. 

“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)

Continue Reading


Elon Musk Bashes Disabled Ex-Twitter Employee, Gets Blowback



After Musk claimed the former employee “did no actual work,” the staffer calmly directed passive-aggressive insults right back at the billionaire.

Excuse Me, Do I Still Work Here?

Elon Musk brawled online with a former Twitter employee who didn’t know whether he was fired Tuesday, accusing the staffer of exploiting his disability.

Haraldur “Halli” Thorleifsson, who has muscular dystrophy, joined Twitter in 2021 after it acquired the creative agency he founded: Ueno.

He said on Twitter that he was unable to confirm whether he was still a Twitter employee nine days after being locked out of his work computer, despite reaching out to the head of HR and Musk himself through email.

At the time, Twitter had laid off at least 200 workers, or some 10% of its remaining workforce.

In search of an answer, Thorleifsson tweeted at Musk, who responded with the question: “What work have you been doing?”

After being given permission by Musk to break confidentiality, Thorleifsson listed several of his accomplishments, including leading “design crits to help level up design across the company.”

“Level up from what design to what? Pics or it didn’t happen,” Musk replied.

We haven’t hired design roles in 4 months. What changes did you make to help with the youths?”

Thorleifsson reminded Musk that he couldn’t access any pictures because he was locked out of his work computer.

Musk stopped replying to the tweets, but hours later he returned to the platform to lob invective at his former employee.

Musk Vs. Halli

“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm,” Musk tweeted, apparently referring to Thorleifsson. “Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that.”

“But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place,” he added.

In a later Twitter thread, Thorleifsson said he could type for one or two hours at a time before his hands cramped, but that in pre-Musk Twitter, that wasn’t a problem because he was a senior director.

He added that despite his crippling disability, he worked hard for years to build Ueno.

“We grew fast and made money,” he said. “I think that’s what you are referring to when you say independently wealthy? That I independently made my money, as opposed to say, inherited an emerald mine.”

Thorleifsson made several more passive-aggressive jabs at Musk.

“I joined at a time when the company was growing fast,” he wrote. “You kind of did the opposite. The company had a fair amount of issues, but then again, most bigger companies do. Or even small companies, like Twitter today.”

Thorleifsson said that immediately following his back-and-forth with Musk, Twitter’s head of HR confirmed that he had indeed been fired from the company.

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (CNN) (Yahoo)

Continue Reading