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Instagram rolls out tools for teens, parents ahead of Senate hearing

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri is scheduled to testify before US lawmakers this week.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

A day before Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri is scheduled to testify before Congress, the photo-sharing app on Tuesday unveiled new parental controls and other features aimed a keeping teens safe. 

Among the new features, Instagram will let parents and guardians set limits on how much time teens are spending on the app. There will also be an option to notify parents if a teens reports someone on Instagram, according to a blog post from Mosseri. These parental controls will roll out in March 2022, and Instagram said it plans to add more options over time. 

Instagram is also launching its "Take a Break" feature, which encourage teens to step away from the app after they've been scrolling for a set period of time. The feature, which was previously announced, starts rolling out Tuesday in the US and a handful of other countries. 

"I'm proud that our platform is a place where teens can spend time with the people they care about, explore their interests, and explore who they are," Mosseri wrote on Tuesday. "I want to make sure that it stays that way, which means above all keeping them safe on Instagram."

Mosseri is scheduled to testify on Wednesday during a Senate hearing that will focus on what Instagram, which is owned by Meta, knows about the impact of its service on young people. It comes as Facebook and Instagram are facing renewed scrutiny from lawmakers. 

Earlier this year, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a trove of internal research to Congress and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The documents served as the basis of a series of stories in The Wall Street Journal, including one detailing how the social network's own research showed Instagram to be "toxic" for teen girls. Meta has said the research is mischaracterized and Instagram helps teens connect to family and friends. 

The Senate hearing, titled "Protecting Kids Online: Instagram and Reforms for Young Users," is set to kick off at 11:30 a.m. PT/2:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 8.