Facebook & Instagram introduce new user tools to track time spent on the apps
Both platforms are rolling out an activity dashboard and new features to help users manage how much time they spend looking at their phones.
Facebook and Instagram (a Facebook-owned app) are both introducing new tools connected to the company’s recent commitment to the time well spent movement. Announced today, both apps will soon be rolling out an activity dashboard where users can track the amount of time they spend on both Facebook and Instagram, along with two additional features to help monitor app usage. Facebook says it wants the time people spend on its apps to be intentional, positive and inspiring.
“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,” writes Facebook’s director of research, David Ginsberg, and Instagram’s product management director, Ameet Ranadive, on Facebook’s news blog.
Both the Facebook and Instagram activity dashboards are located on the user’s settings page. For Instagram, the feature is labeled “Your Activity,” and on Facebook, it’s “Your Time On Facebook.” Clicking on either of these listings from the settings page will display a dashboard tracking the amount of time spent on the individual app by day. Clicking on the bars within the chart will show the total time spent that day. An option to set a daily reminder to close the app is located beneath the dashboard. There is also a link to “Notification Settings” feature where users can mute push notifications for the apps.
Here are screen shots Facebook shared to show what the activity dashboard and accompanying features look like on both apps:
The time well spent initiative is not isolated to Facebook — Google and Apple both have announced digital wellness efforts. Former Facebook and Google executives are part of a group that launched the Center for Human Technology, an organization advocating for better social media and technology regulations, as well as a “Truth About Tech” campaign being pushed out to US public schools.
The crux for marketers is how the time well spent movement will impact their advertising strategy. Obviously, any features or design implementations aiming to limit user activity will cause consumers to spend less time on their mobile devices and apps. But there’s an argument to be made that the shorter time periods users spend looking at the phones may result in more engaged user sessions. Marketers may need to refine ad campaigns to capture user attention.
At the start of the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his public Facebook page that one of his top priorities in 2018 was to make sure time spent on Facebook was time well spent. Facebook has followed through on this initiative in a number of ways, first by adjusting its News Feed algorithm to surface more posts from family and friends versus branded content, a change that was made in January. Since then, Facebook has added a “Keyword Snooze” feature that allows users to block posts containing words or phrases for a 30-day period. The company also rolled out a “You’re all caught up” feature on Instagram that lets users know when they have seen everything in their feed.