February 29, 2024

Meta Supports Parental Control Over Teen Mental Health Concerns

In the wake of numerous lawsuits alleging negligence regarding the impact of its platforms on the mental health of teens, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is pointing fingers at tech giants Apple and Google.

The social media platform is now batting for federal legislation that will hold Google Play and Apple’s App Store responsible for such adversaries.

Meta has suggested a mechanism that requires parental approval before teens under 16 can download potentially harmful apps from these stores.

Here, he proposed a system where parents would be notified by app stores when a teen tries to download an app containing content that is considered detrimental to their mental health.

This move by Meta comes amidst a flurry of legal challenges. Even in recent months, Meta has been pulled up by the EU for its inert stance to act against mental issues children have been facing on its platforms.

According to Béjar, Meta is still misinterpreting the frequency and extent of damage to its users, particularly children.

A former consultant for Instagram and engineering director at Facebook, Arturo Béjar, recently testified before Congress about the awareness of Meta and the dangers its platform poses to teens. He said that Meta hasn’t yet established a goal to reduce those harms and protect children.

His statement reflects the same claims made by Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistle-blower who accused the platform of ignoring safety for profits.

The accusations prompted a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators to demand documents from Mark Zuckerberg related to the knowledge of the company about the adverse mental and physical dangers its platforms are posing.

Previously, Meta announced that it would roll out ad-free subscription options in the EU to protect children from being targeted by advertisements. This new ad-free subscription option was scheduled to be launched in November in Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein to address the legal requirements.

The push for legislation comes at a time when Meta is facing legal challenges from 41 U.S. states and numerous school districts. They have alleged Meta for the harmful nature of its products.

Previously, Meta claimed that it introduced more than 30 tools to safeguard the online environment. However, the current need for further regulations is prompting politicians to come up with new local laws.

Last March, Utah mandated parental consent for children who accessed social media apps. Now, with Meta advocating a national law, a unified approach may be the solution to keep children safe.

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