A coalition of advocates for children’s mental and physical health is urging Senate Commerce Committee leadership to move forward on bipartisan legislation to make social media platforms liable for harms to minors.
The committee should vote this month on the Kids Online Safety Act, more than 100 groups led by the American Psychological Association, the Eating Disorders Coalition, Fairplay, and Mental Health America said in a Tuesday letter to its Democratic Chair Sen.
“The enormity of the youth mental health crisis needs to be addressed as the very real harms of social media are impacting our children today,” their letter says. It cites studies suggesting that teens report being bullied on such platforms and kids are exposed to content that can promote eating disorders.
The bill (S. 3663) hasn’t advanced since it was introduced in February, though panels of the committee have held hearings focused on protecting kids online. That includes hearing testimony from Frances Haugen, a former employee of
Children’s advocates have called on social media platforms to address what they see as addictive design choices that keep kids glued to their devices and expose them to potentially harmful content.
The legislation from Sens.
Another bill provision would require platforms to disclose how children’s personal data is used to fuel recommendation algorithms and how such data is used in targeted advertising.
Companies also would need to undergo outside audits assessing risks to minors and give researchers insight into their platforms.
“The lack of transparency into the inner workings, policies and measured impacts of these platforms must be addressed now,” the groups’ letter said.
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