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How To Reduce the Sexual Solicitation of Teens on Instagram

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the issue of sexual solicitation of teenagers on Instagram and proposes solutions to address this problem, based on the experiences and recommendations of Arturo Béjar, a former high-level employee at Facebook and Instagram.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Arturo Béjar's Background and Findings

1. What was Arturo Béjar's role at Facebook and Instagram?

  • Arturo Béjar was a senior engineering and product leader at Facebook from 2009 to 2015, responsible for the company's efforts to keep users safe and supported. He led the Protect & Care group, focusing on site integrity, security infrastructure, and user care.

2. What did Arturo Béjar discover about the experiences of teenagers on Instagram?

  • Arturo found that his own 14-year-old daughter and her friends were regularly receiving sexually suggestive comments and propositions on Instagram, with no way to report such behavior.
  • Arturo's internal research at Instagram found that 13% of teen users aged 13-15 said they had received unwanted sexual advances on Instagram in the past week. This translates to a massive scale of sexual harassment of teens on the platform.
  • Arturo also found that 13% of 13-15-year-olds had seen violent, bloody, or disturbing images on Instagram in the past week, and 19% had seen nudity or sexual images they didn't want to see.

3. How did the company leadership respond to Arturo's findings?

  • Arturo shared his findings with Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Chris Cox, and Adam Mosseri, but they did not take any action to address the harms that teens were experiencing on Instagram.
  • Arturo believes the company's leadership was unwilling to address the many different harms that people were experiencing on the platform.

[02] Arturo's Recommendations for Regulators

1. What are Arturo's key recommendations for regulators?

  • Arturo believes that the only way things will get better is if social media companies are forced to act through government regulation.
  • He recommends that regulators require social media companies to:
    • Establish metrics and gather data on people's actual experiences of receiving unwanted contact and distressing content.
    • Regularly and routinely report this user experience data to the public, alongside financial data.
  • Arturo believes that if such systems are properly designed, it can radically improve the experience of children and teenagers on social media.

2. Why does Arturo believe these reforms are necessary?

  • Arturo explains that social media companies manage their businesses based on a close analysis of data, and nothing gets changed unless it is measured.
  • He believes that if the problems identified are not problems that the company's systems are designed to detect and measure, the company's managers have no means to understand them.
  • Arturo wants regulators to step in and require metric-based goals based on the harm that teenagers experience, as the companies themselves are unwilling to address these problems on their own.

3. How does Arturo view the role of parents in addressing these issues?

  • Arturo acknowledges that reforms will take time, so he advises parents to be aware of what their teenage children are experiencing online and to make it safe for them to talk about any problems they face.
  • He encourages parents to ask their teens about unwanted content or contact they have experienced, as most teens can readily describe the bad things that have happened to them online.
  • Arturo believes that ultimately, it should be the responsibility of social media companies to create a safe environment for teenagers, just as we expect schools to ensure the safety of students.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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