Proposed bipartisan legislation will penalize major technology companies for turning minors into compulsive online networkers.
California state assemblyman Rep. Jordan Cunningham (R-35 Calif.) and assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-15 Calif.) recently introduced Assembly Bill 2408 to hold tech giants responsible for child social media addiction.
The bill, also known as the Social Media Platform Duty to Children Act, makes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other social networks liable for underage users developing an uncontrollable urge to use their service.
Namely, parents and guardians could sue the responsible company for harming a child’s health through advertising, push notifications, and design features.
“California Assembly Bill 2408 was introduced by assembly members Jordan Cunningham and Buffy Wicks to impose a clear duty on social media platforms not to use techniques that addict children. And to make platforms liable for penalties and damages when social media addiction harms children—especially adolescent girls,” the University of San Diego’s Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) website said.
CAI senior counsel Ed Howard hopes the Golden State’s first legislation of its kind will use financial accountability to discourage social media companies from “manipulating” inventions to be more “addictive and harmful” for children.
“We should not have to put in law that some of the most profitable corporations in the world have a duty to be kind to children, have a duty not to make addicts of children but here we are,” he said on Twitter.
@CAICchildlaw Ed Howard #AB2408: “We shouldn’t have to put in law that some of the most profitable corporations in the world have a duty to be kind to children, have a duty not to make addicts of children. But here we are.” @Cunning_Jordan @BuffyWicks https://t.co/4BuDbjSZ6O— Children’s Advocacy Inst. (@CAIChildLaw) March 15, 2022
Cunningham and Wicks previously proposed a bill called the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act. According to Market Watch, the bill compels web product owners to limit collecting California child data, better protect them from other users, simplify privacy and curb addictive interfaces.