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Time alerts put the brakes on Facebook consumption, are rolling out now

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Facebook will now let you know just how long you spend on the network. After announcing new time management tools in August, the option to track or limit time spent on Facebook is now rolling out to users, days after the tool launched for Instagram. The tools monitor time on the networks, control notifications, and enable users to set a daily time limit.

Many social media users are aware of how easy it is to open the app to check notifications only to end up spending 20 minutes scrolling through memes, blog posts, and what your second cousin ate for lunch. The new set of tools are just one of the updates the network has launched since CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared that his 2018 goal was to make time on the networks time well-spent, reducing passive consumption and increasing engagement on the networks.

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The tools will be available in the settings menu on both Facebook and Instagram — on Facebook, the option is called “Your Time on Facebook” while Instagram users can find similar tools by tapping on “Your Activity” from the settings menu. On both networks, the new feature will display the time you spend on the network as a daily average, with a chart breaking down activity by weekday.

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The new daily reminder tool allows users to receive an alert when they’ve reached a set amount of time spent on the network. Facebook isn’t going to kick you off, but it will send you a pop-up notification if you’ve lost track of time scrolling through the newsfeed. The new section of settings also includes the option to temporarily mute push notifications.

“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,” Instagram’s Ameet Ranadive and Facebook’s David Ginsberg wrote in a blog post. “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.”

The new features, which leaked early in June, join a list of changes designed to further Zuckerberg’s goal of creating less passive consumption and more interaction, including a snooze button and Instagram’s new notice that “You’re all caught up.” As predicted, the changes are negatively impacting Facebook’s user metrics, but the company says the conversation about time spent online is an important one to have.

Updated on November 20, 2018: Added the rollout of the new feature.

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