How to make social media safe for children

IN MARCH AND April Jim Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a children’s advocacy group, badgered members of America’s Congress to regulate the apps children are using online. Their response on Capitol Hill shocked him. “We already regulated Nickelodeon, Disney channel and PBS Kids,” they replied, referring to rules for television enacted in the 1990s and 2000s (with his help). They had apparently missed a series of recent scandals: children exposed to violence and pornography, their data being collected, paedophiles lurking in comments sections of videos depicting youngsters. “We’re changing at warp speed,” Mr Steyer says, “and we’re still talking about ‘Sesame Street’.”

Not for much longer. Members of Congress are drafting multiple bills to regulate how internet platforms treat children. Britain has proposed child-safety rules, including prohibitions on features designed to keep users hooked. From July it is expected to require porn sites to bar users under 18; MindGeek, which owns many salacious sites, wants to use an age-verification registry in order to comply (and, in doing so, make it easier to charge adult visitors for content). In Delhi politicians are considering rules that could stop the data of anyone under 18 from being collected. The EU bars tech giants from garnering data and targeting ads at children. Last year...



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