Biden Urges Lawmakers To Regulate Social Media

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on lawmakers in the Senate to advance legislation that would regulate social media platforms.

“We've got to hold these platforms accountable for the national experiment they've been conducting on our children for profit,” Biden said during a broader speech about mental health in the country.

“Later this week, senators will debate legislation to protect kids privacy online,” Biden said.

He added: "Pass it. Pass it. Pass it. Pass it. Pass it." 

The remarks came two days before the Senate Commerce Committee is expected to mark up two bills that would regulate how platforms display material to users under 17, and how the platforms harness teens' data.

One of those bills, the proposed Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act would prohibit websites and apps from collecting a broad range of data -- including device identifiers, biometric information and geolocation -- from users between the ages of 13 and 15 without their express consent.

The other measure, the more controversial Kids Online Safety Act, would require platforms to take “reasonable measures” to prevent and mitigate potential harms associated with social media use -- including depression, eating disorders, and online bullying -- when displaying material to users the platforms know or should know are 16 or younger.

That proposed law also would require platforms to use the most privacy-protective default settings for teens. Other provisions would require platforms that allow ads to minors to label all ads, say why minors are being targeted for particular ads, and disclose all commercial endorsements.

Digital rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation oppose the Kids Online Safety Act, arguing the bill will empower state attorneys general to censor content for political reasons.

But some advocates for young people -- including Fairplay, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Digital Democracy -- are asking lawmakers to advance the legislation.

“The Kids Online Safety Act seeks to hold social media companies accountable after their repeated failures to protect children and adolescents from the practices that make their platforms more harmful,” the groups said in a letter sent to lawmakers last week.

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