Carving Out a Kid-Friendly Social Media Experience

As smart as they are known to be, human beings are also known for making a ton of mistakes. This, in particular, has already showed up on the surface quite a few times throughout our history, with each appearance practically forcing to look for some sort of a defensive cover. We will, on our part, find the stated cover once we bring dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across every area wasted no time in altering the picture, as it gave us the perfect cushion against many of our shortcomings. However, sadly enough, the whole utopian vibe died down pretty soon, and if we dig into the reasons, we’ll realize how it was all technology’s fault. You see, the moment technology and its layered nature took over the spectrum; it made people more vulnerable than ever before, thus giving others a chance to exploit them in various different ways. As if that wasn’t devastating enough, the stated runner ended up materializing on such a scale that it overwhelmed our governing forces and sent them back to the drawing board. Nevertheless, after much wait, the coin is ready to flip again, and a recently-imposed legislation does a lot to make sure that it falls in the regulators’ favor.

California has officially passed a legislation, which will lay down a framework for how sites operate for minors. Known as AB 2273, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, the new bill starts off by mandating web services “likely to be accessed by children” to conduct an extensive survey that assesses the potential risks for users under 18. Next up, the sites are ordered to limit using personal information from minors and avoid collecting geolocation data unless “strictly necessary,” Interestingly, AB 2273 also tries to cut back on those dark patterns that are basically manipulative design features not defined in the text. Another key detail about the bill is how it requires services to establish the age of child users with a “reasonable level of certainty”. This concrete benchmark, in turn, should pave the way for higher privacy and safety standards.

“We are very encouraged by today’s bi-partisan passage of AB 2273, a monumental step toward protecting California kids online,” said the children’s advocacy organization, Common Sense. “Today’s action, authored by Assembly members Wicks, Cunningham and Petrie-Norris, sends an important signal about the need to make children’s online health and safety a greater priority for lawmakers and for our tech companies, particularly when it comes to websites that are accessed by young users.”

Although the bill is still waiting on a nod from the California Governor, Gavin Newsom, it can become the perfect partner for the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which restricts collecting information about children under 13, while also setting special rules for sites that are aimed specifically at children.

As for the wider picture, the effort to make online platforms safer for young users, of course, stems from all those recent revelations that accused social media companies like Meta, Instagram, and TikTok of harming children through their addictive features.

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