Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) took a stand this week for safeguarding American kids from Big Tech companies that prioritize the almighty dollar over protecting youth online.
His new proposal is to codify into law that the ability to use social media starts at 16 years old. The Republican said the move “is about protecting kids, protecting their mental health, protecting their safety.”
Amid growing backlash against social media platforms, Sen. Josh @HawleyMO said he plans to sponsor a bill that will set a minimum age of 16 for social media users and he plans to commission a study on the impact of social media on young users’ well-being. https://t.co/1JfMwjjZQZ
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) February 9, 2023
Hawley pointed towards “ample evidence” of the detrimental effects of social media. He noted the fact that Big Tech rakes in huge profits while ignoring the harm caused to the young.
For Hawley, this is hardly a partisan issue. In fact, he said that he’d held numerous conversations with Democrats on the subject and sees much room for agreement.
After all, as he said, every American parent regardless of political affiliation can agree that protecting kids from the irresponsibility of these companies is important.
Hawley has a long record of calling out social media platforms and tech companies. His voice is one of the loudest in demanding a complete ban on the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok for security reasons, and now he wants companies to verify the ages of their users.
Hawley’s agenda, he said, is to “do something real and tangible” that will offer a wall of protection to kids online and empower parents to have oversight of online activities.
President Joe Biden and some fellow Democrats have also urged stricter privacy rules, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) just last week implored Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.
A large swath of Republican governors have already banned TikTok from use on government-issued devices, and there are a growing number of congressional Democrats waking up to the issue.
Bennet expressed his concerns in a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google, pointing out that TikTok is like many other social media platforms in gathering vast troves of user data.
Unlike the others, however, the company is obligated under Chinese law to share its findings with the communist state if asked. This, many believe, is an unacceptable risk that no amount of assurances from the company will wash away.