Facebook and Instagram want people to spend quality time on their platforms, even if that means spending less time on their platforms.
Instagram product management director Ameet Ranadive and Facebook director of research David Ginsberg officially unveiled a feature that has been discovered in testing on both Instagram and Facebook in recent months: activity dashboards to let people know how much time they have spent on the respective applications on the device they are using, as well as the ability to set daily reminders when they reach a time limit they pre-determine for each app and a way to mute push notifications for a specified period of time.
Activity dashboards will begin rolling out on both platforms “soon.”
People on Instagram can access the activity dashboard by tapping on Your Activity, while Facebook users can do so by tapping Your Time on Facebook.
The dashboard will display a user’s average time per day for Instagram or Facebook on the device currently accessing the platform, as well as the total time spent on the current day.
Users can set the amount of time they wish to spend per day on each app and elect to receive alerts when they have reached that time limit. Those alerts can be edited or canceled at any time.
Tapping on Notification Settings also enables people to limit the push notifications they receive from the respective platforms for a specified period of time.
Ranadive and Ginsberg wrote in a blog post, “We developed these tools based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community. We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring. Our hope is that these tools give people more control over the time they spend on our platforms and also foster conversations between parents and teens about the online habits that are right for them.”
They added, “It’s not just about the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram, but how they spend that time. It’s our responsibility to talk openly about how time online impacts people—and we take that responsibility seriously. These new tools are an important first step, and we are committed to continuing our work to foster safe, kind and supportive communities for everyone.”
Ranadive told Kurt Wagner of Recode, “There may be some trade-off with other metrics for the company. That’s a trade-off that we’re willing to live with because, in the long run, this is important to the community.”
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom expressed similar sentiments, telling Wagner, “As long as you believe that we’re developing products that people love, and that they use them frequently because they’re deriving value out of them, not because they’re addicted to it, then we’re doing our job. If that’s our mission, then the question is: Can we provide people tools so that they can be in control? I, as the CEO of Instagram, don’t want to make a single person use Instagram more than they want to use it. That’s not my intention. So, if we can give people the tools to control their time, or be aware of their time, I think that is a very healthy equilibrium.”