A committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives approved a bill to ban social media from targeting content to children under the age of 18. Hearings in the Senate will be held next week.
— MNHouseInfo (@MNHouseInfo) March 16, 2022
According to the document, children on social networks will only see posts from people they have added as friends. The legislation excludes user-generated content created by educational institutions – they will be left with the ability to send targeted messages to high school students.
Representatives from both parties said that social media is harming children, contributing to body problems, anxiety and depression.
According to Harvard Chan School of Public Health professor Brina Austin, 63% of teenagers and 13% of children aged 8 to 12 use social media daily. A child may like a photo before and after losing weight, and the algorithms will show him more of this content, she said.
“Social media platforms, especially those with images like Instagram, can be very detrimental to teen mental health,” Austin said.
Tech companies have spoken out against the restrictions. They accused lawmakers of trying to stifle free speech and hurt user experience. According to tech giant lobbyists, blocking user-generated content could prevent kids from seeing helpful posts.
Legislators, in turn, accused the companies of exacerbating social problems. State House of Representative Erin Kegel said social media platform algorithms are responsible for narrowing people’s perspectives by giving them content they agree with.
Despite bipartisan support for the initiative, some legislators have said it needs to be improved. What kind of changes are in question in the State House of Representatives was not specified.
Recall that in February, US senators introduced a bill to regulate recommender algorithms in social networks.
In January, congressmen proposed to ban the use of digital ad targeting on platforms like Facebook and Google.
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