âWith more than three billion subscribers worldwide, your platforms have become routine modes of communication and are now an integral part of our social fabric. However, we also know that these significant technological advances have a certain cost for society â, Curtis said. âWe recognize the difficult task of controlling your site for underage or fake accounts, but increased attention needs to be paid to ensuring that underage children do not use these sites and especially because they do not yet have the ability to understand this content without the help of their parents. ”
Social media is often cited as the cause of teen anxiety with documented cases of teen cyberbullying in addition to sexual harassment. Federal law protects children under thirteen by prohibiting Internet companies from collecting and selling data generated by children thirteen and under. The biggest social media platforms have even gone further by explicitly stating in their terms of service that children thirteen and under cannot register to use their sites without parental supervision.
Despite this, a study published recently from 2020 clearly shows that children thirteen and under use these platforms without adequate protection in place to protect them from inappropriate content. The results specifically indicate that among children thirteen and under surveyed, 45% use Facebook and 40% use Instagram. About 36% of this subset said they had encountered harmful experiences online – of which 26% said they had experienced those interactions on Instagram, in particular.
Lawmakers have called for answers to the following questions as soon as possible:
- What specific steps do you take to identify a minor user and therefore someone who violates your terms of service?
- Have you taken steps to ensure that these users cannot register under another fake ID if you have identified a minor user? If so, what specific actions are you taking? If not, are steps being taken to address this issue and what are these specific steps?
- What specific steps do you take to accurately verify the identity of a potential user before they can successfully register on your platforms? Are there any other steps you think you can take to strengthen your verification methods to protect yourself against underage users and against adversaries who try to undermine our American ideals? If so, what are these actions?
- What steps are you taking or planning to take to protect young users from cyberbullying and sexual content?
- What steps do you think Congress needs to take to help protect our children from offensive content on your sites and from foreign adversaries using your sites to influence American society?