Home News Biden Wants Congress to Reduce the Risks of Social Media for Children

Biden Wants Congress to Reduce the Risks of Social Media for Children

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Biden Wants Congress to Reduce the Risks of Social Media for Children

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In his State of the Union address in 2022, President Biden warned of social media harms to young people and called for new privacy protections for children online.

“We must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit,” Mr. Biden said.

The president made similar comments in his State of the Union speech last year, urging Congress to enact restrictions on social media services like TikTok and Instagram.

“It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us,” Mr. Biden said at the time.

Tonight, the president is likely to call for new curbs on social media yet again. What is different this year is that a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers is moving closer to passing new social media rules.

In the Senate, a bill called the Kids Online Safety Act has gained traction among both Democrats and Republicans. The measure would cover social media and video game platforms with certain design features like never-ending newsfeeds and personalized content recommendation systems.

It would require those online service to turn on the highest privacy settings by default for minors. It would allow young people to opt out of personalized recommendation algorithms. And it would impose a “duty of care” on many social media and video game platforms to prevent harms to minors — including depression, eating disorders, violence, sexual exploitation and predatory marketing.

Introduced by Senators Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, and Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, the online safety bill now has more than 60 co-sponsors, more than enough support to pass. The measure has also been endorsed by health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association. It has not yet been scheduled for a Senate vote.

Even if the bill passes the Senate, however, it faces an uphill battle.

Civil liberties groups and tech industry trade organizations have raised First Amendment concerns about the measure, warning that the bill’s “duty of care” provision could lead social media platforms to limit information on significant issues like eating disorders, gender identity and reproductive health. That would make it more difficult for young people to find crucial news, resources and communities, critics say.

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