As concerns about social media’s harmful effects on teens continue to rise, platforms from Snapchat to TikTok to Instagram are bolting on new features they say will make their services safer and more age appropriate. But the changes rarely address the elephant in the the room — the algorithms pushing endless content that can drag anyone, not just teens, into harmful rabbit holes.
The tools do offer some help, such as blocking strangers from messaging kids. But they also share some deeper flaws, starting with the fact that teenagers can get around limits if they lie about their age. The platforms also place the burden of enforcement on parents. And they do little or nothing to screen for inappropriate and harmful material served up by algorithms that can affect teens’ mental and physical well-being.