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Meta Supports Legislation to Require Parental Approval for Teen App Downloads

a white square with a blue logo on itMeta Supports Legislation to Require Parental Approval for Teen App Downloads

By Movieguide® Contributor

Meta wants to work with lawmakers on legislation that would require parental approval before teens download apps.  

“Technology companies are developing distinct, age-appropriate experiences for teens, while lawmakers consider new legislation designed to protect their safety and privacy online,” Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety, said. “Legislation is needed so all apps teens use can be held to the same standard. But what’s happening is much more complicated than that.”

She explained how, although some laws that protect teens online do currently exist, they are inconsistent in the different states.

“US states are passing a patchwork of different laws, many of which require teens (of varying ages) to get their parent’s approval to use certain apps, and for everyone to verify their age to access them,” Davis continued. “Teens move interchangeably between many websites and apps, and social media laws that hold different platforms to different standards in different states will mean teens are inconsistently protected.”

Davis proposes federal legislation “that requires app stores to get parents’ approval whenever their teens under 16 download apps” be passed to resolve the inconsistent rules. 

“With this solution, when a teen wants to download an app, app stores would be required to notify their parents, much like when parents are notified if their teen attempts to make a purchase,” she explained. “Parents can decide if they want to approve the download. They can also verify the age of their teen when setting up their phone, negating the need for everyone to verify their age multiple times across multiple apps.” 

Davis’ proposal would “put app stores, like those run by Apple and Google, on the hook for implementing parental controls – rather than social media companies.”

This solution comes as the tech giant faces backlash for its ongoing failure to protect teens. 

The Hill reported, “A former Meta employee came forward earlier this month, alleging top executives dismissed warnings that teens were facing unwanted sexual advances and widespread bullying on Instagram…A bipartisan coalition of 33 states also sued Meta in October, alleging the company knowingly designed and deployed features that harmed young users’ mental health. Another eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, also filed lawsuits against Meta in state court.” 

Movieguide® previously reported on the states’ lawsuits against Meta:

Forty-one states and the District of Columbia are suing Meta for building addictive features into its technology that harm children’s well-being.

“Our bipartisan investigation has arrived at a solemn conclusion: Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

“We have a youth mental health crisis in the United States,” added Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “The young people were brought down rabbit holes.”

To hold Meta accountable for this alleged business practice, thirty-three states are filing a joint lawsuit against the company, while eight states and Washington D.C. are filing separate complaints in federal, state or local courts.

The complaints argue that Meta misled parents and children regarding its safety features, allowing it to illegally collect data on children for profit, thereby violating child privacy laws.

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