In his first State of the Union address, President Biden has asked Congress to implement new laws to increase child safety on Facebook, TikTok and other social media platforms. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children,” he said on Tuesday evening.
To get started on implementing those changes, the White House will specifically ask for funding to study the question of child safety on social media. Biden also plans to request $5 million in next year’s budget to research the mental health impact of social media, while launching a “national Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Illness.” The aim of that is to develop new guidance on the impact of adolescent social media use.
Much of the motivation for the changes appears to have come from the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who attended the address as a guest of Jill Biden. She recently testified before Congress, accusing Facebook parent Meta of disregarding child safety on the platform.
Her revelations impacted politicians on both sides of the aisle, who agreed that stronger rules were required. Last month, Democrat Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal introduced a bill, the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), that would give parents and children more control over their privacy and safety on social media, while setting new rules for social media platforms.
“As Frances Haugen, who is here with us tonight, has shown, we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit ,” the President said.