‘There is an opportunity for you’: Meta exec’s social media advice to parents


Meta Group Industry Director Naomi Shepherd says it is never too late for parents to start a conversation with their children about social media usage – even if they’ve been on it for years.
Forbes Australia’s Shivaune Field, Kent Ramchand of Kyndryl Australia, Meta’s Naomi Shepherd and SmartNews’s Arjun Narayan at the Forbes Australia Business Summit

Shepherd said it was not too late to open up such conversations – even if a teenager had been on social media for years. “The reason you can continue to have that conversation is because … the tools are constantly being updated. They’re constantly being developed with new technology in mind with new need-stakes in mind,” she told the Forbes Australia Business Summit.

Meta Inc, formerly Facebook Inc, owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Threads and the Horizon metaverse.

Shepherd urged parents to look up the tools at the Meta Family Center. She has an older daughter who is on social media.

“What my daughter knows is that I have a dashboard in her Instagram account. It’s connected to my Instagram account. I can look on that dashboard and see who she’s blocked. I can see who’s commenting on her posts. I can see who she may have reported online, and I can see the types of experiences that she’s having on social media. So it’s really important that we all take charge of that. “There is an opportunity for you as parents to have an ongoing, enriched, conversation about it.”

Netflix’s director of content ANZ, Que Minh Luu, at the Forbes Australia Business Summit.

Shepherd would not comment on specific court cases in the US alleging that Meta has contributed to mental health problems in young people. “But what I can say is, you know, these are the things that Meta as a company cares about very deeply … As an example, we’ve launched about 30 wellbeing and safety tools just for teens and their families, just on Instagram, this year alone.

“Those things are developed to help provide really positive experiences online for teens.”

Meta had partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, launching a program called Take It Down.

“That was set up to prevent the spread of unwanted internet images online for teens and young adults …

“It co-ordinates with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to find that unwanted image anywhere it exists online, on any platform, and take it down. That’s something we’ve developed this year. This runs deep (at Meta) and has done for many years.”

Naomi Shepherd, Meta

Speaking more generally about where the latest wave of AI technology was going, she said that Meta was going hard at “relationship focussed AI experiences, also known as AI agents”.

 “These things are fairly new, but they’re not unique to Meta. The way we’re thinking about them in a unique way is to bring more personality and more character development to those AI agents. So we’ll be launching about 28 AI agents across the coming weeks and months. We’ve worked with cultural icons and influencers and celebrities to be able to bring a certain tone of voice to those AI agents.”

She said they had collaborated with Matilda’s captain Sam Kerr, a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master, rapper Snoop Dog, and American footballer Tom Brady. “These things are just evolutions of an existing technology, AI, but using generative tools to make us more creative, more efficient and more productive.”

More from Forbes