U.S. Surgeon General Calls for Social Media Warning Labels

United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has renewed his push for Congress to enact social media warning label advising of potential mental health damage to adolescents. Murthy also called on tech companies to be more transparent with internal data on the impact of their products on American youth, requesting independent safety audits and restrictions on features that may be addictive, including autoplay, push notifications and infinite scroll, which he suggests “prey on developing brains and contribute to excessive use.” His federal campaign joins a groundswell of local laws restricting minors’ access to social media. Continue reading U.S. Surgeon General Calls for Social Media Warning Labels

Florida Enacts the Nation’s Most Restrictive Social Media Law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law preventing children under 14 from creating new social media accounts, and requiring platforms to delete existing accounts, with no opportunity for parental consent. For children 14- to 15-years of age, consent of a parent or guardian is required to create or maintain accounts. Without it, or upon request, the accounts and personal data must be deleted, with fines of up to $50,000 per incident per platform. The law, set to take effect in January 2025, is being called the most restrictive passed by any state and is sure to face First Amendment scrutiny by the courts. Continue reading Florida Enacts the Nation’s Most Restrictive Social Media Law

Second Meta Whistleblower Testifies to Potential Child Harm

A second Meta Platforms whistleblower has come forward, testifying this week before a Senate subcommittee that the company’s social networks were potentially harming teens, and his warnings to that effect were ignored by top leadership. Arturo Bejar, from 2009 to 2015 a Facebook engineering director and an Instagram consultant from 2019 to 2021, told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law that Meta officials failed to take steps to protect underage users on the platforms. Bejar follows former Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who provided explosive Senate testimony in 2021. Continue reading Second Meta Whistleblower Testifies to Potential Child Harm

Streaming Giants Form Trade Group as New Regulations Loom

Some of the nation’s biggest streaming services have banded together to form a trade group, the Streaming Innovation Alliance, that will lobby at federal and state levels for policies that support their goals. Early members include Max, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, The Walt Disney Company, TelevisaUnivision, ViX, BET+ and the MPA. Signing on as advisors are Washington D.C. veterans Fred Upton, who headed the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Mignon Clyburn, once acting chair of the FCC. The creation of the trade group comes as new online regulations loom. Continue reading Streaming Giants Form Trade Group as New Regulations Loom

Government Advances Online Safety Legislation for Children

The Senate has cleared two children’s online safety bills despite pushback from civil liberties groups that say the digital surveillance used to monitor behavior will result in an Internet less safe for kids. The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0) are intended to address a mental health crisis experts blame in large part on social media, but critics say the bills could cause more harm than good by forcing social media firms to collect more user data as part of enforcement. The bills — which cleared the Senate Commerce Committee by unanimous vote — are also said to reduce access to encrypted services. Continue reading Government Advances Online Safety Legislation for Children

Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels

Online privacy protections for consumers are in focus on Capitol Hill, with the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) getting particular attention. A coalition of more than 100 organizations, including Fairplay and the American Psychological Association are calling on senators to advance KOSA this month. Co-sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), the legislation would require social media platforms to conduct annual audits to identify risks to minors as well as more concrete steps like opting out of algorithmic recommendations and disabling “addictive” features.  Continue reading Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels

Kids Online Safety Act Advocates Holding Tech Accountable

A bipartisan bill to protect kids online was introduced Wednesday by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee). The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) would give parents more control over social media settings, add opt-out features and establish a “duty of care” that opens the door to liability and lawsuits. “Big Tech has brazenly failed children and betrayed its trust, putting profits above safety,” said Blumenthal. “This measure makes kids’ safety an Internet priority.” The bill follows a media blitz and months of Congressional hearings on the danger of social media to the mental and physical health of young users. Continue reading Kids Online Safety Act Advocates Holding Tech Accountable