(LibertySociety.com) – Senator Josh Hawley, R-MO, is continuing his pursuit of protecting children online, calling for bipartisan legislation to enact a legal age to create accounts on social media. On February 14, FoxBusiness reported that Hawley introduced two new bills, which would set the social media age requirement to 16 and require further study into how these platforms affect children.
This should come as no surprise to people who have been following the actions of Senator Hawley. Hawley has been steadfast in his criticism of companies like Facebook and TikTok due to concerns that they have failed to protect children. In May of 2019, he published an op-ed in USA today, labeling Facebook as “an addictive digital drug that hurts its users.” He is now proposing the minimum age to use social media to be set at 16 years old, legally, and for companies to verify accounts that are created on their platforms.
Back in July of 2019, Hawley introduced a bill called the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act, or SMART Act. This bill sought to limit social media companies from implementing technology that entices children to spend more time on their platforms, which can lead to addiction. Hawley has introduced legislation with Democrats, like Senator Ed Markey, D-MA, to stop companies from tracking kids online, so he believes he can get support from Democrats with this new legislation as well. In an interview on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, Hawley stated the push is about securing the safety and well-being of kids, according to a report from Fox News.
Many Democrats have issues with big tech companies, albeit for different reasons than Republicans, but the one thing that some seem to agree on is protecting children online. Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, has been extremely critical of Instagram, accusing it back in 2021 of “push[ing] poisonous content to children.” With the attention on big tech at an all-time high, Senator Hawley seems confident that Congress can come together to finally lay groundwork that will provide meaningful protections for children online.
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