Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Kids Online Safety Act, which will enhance children’s online safety and hold social media companies accountable. This bipartisan legislation provides kids and parents with the tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against threats to children’s physical and mental health online and requires social media platforms to prioritize the interests of children.
“We need to protect our kids and teens who are being bombarded by unregulated social media platforms that are causing a serious mental health crisis among our youth,” said Senator Manchin. “This bipartisan legislation would establish much-needed accountability for social media companies and provide kids and parents with the safeguards to shield children from harmful content. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bipartisan legislation to keep our children safe from online harm.”
The Kids Online Safety Act:
- Requires social media platforms to provide minors with options to protect their information, disable addictive product features, and opt out of algorithmic recommendations. Platforms would be required to enable the strongest settings by default.
- Gives parents new controls to help support their children and identify harmful behaviors, and provides parents and children with a dedicated channel to report any harms to kids.
- Requires social media platforms to prevent and mitigate harms to minors, including the promotion of self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and advertisement of unlawful products for minors (e.g. gambling and alcohol).
- Requires social media platforms to perform an annual independent audit that assesses the risks to minors, their compliance with this legislation, and whether the platform is taking meaningful steps to prevent those harms.
- Provides academic and public interest organizations with access to critical datasets from social media platforms to foster research regarding harm to the safety and well-being of minors.
The Kids Online Safety Acthas been endorsed by a number of advocacy and technology groups, including Common Sense Media, the American Psychological Association, the 5Rights Foundation, American Compass, the Internet Accountability Project, American Principles Project, and the Digital Progress Institute.