A new California bill requires social-media sites to consider the health of children and teens using their platforms.
Under the new regulations, social-media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok would have to complete studies on their products and features before releasing them.
The studies would assess any potential harm to minors. Though this information would not be released to the public, the state attorney general can request access to the studies’ conclusions.
Additionally, the bill would require privacy policies to be written in a child-friendly way, prevent tracking without explicit disclosure, and limit the way a minor’s personal information can be used.
Earlier this week the bill passed both chambers of the California legislature with unanimous bipartisan support. California Governor Gavin Newsom has not announced whether he will sign the bill.
Social-media companies are in opposition to the new law over concerns that varying state regulations would make compliance impossible. Meta, Snap, and Twitter lobbied against the bill, The Wall Street Journal reports.
If a company is found in violation of these policies, it can be fined up to $2,500 per affected child or $7,500 per child if the violation is deemed intentional.
If signed into law, the bill will take effect in 2024.
Why it’s news
The bill is the first of its kind, legally requiring social-media sites to take minors’ health into consideration when designing platforms.
In recent years more information has become available on how social media sites are influencing children and teens.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook was aware Instagram was causing harm to teenage girls specifically.
More and more research points to social media having a negative affect on its users. Social media use can affect a person’s sleep, body image, increase the risk of depression or polarization, and increase a user’s stress level.
Teens are especially present on social media and especially vulnerable to its effects. Studies have linked extended social media use to increased risk of depression.
California’s solution to social media problems is a new one and time will tell whether or not it is effective.