This week, lawmakers in California passed a sweeping new bill to protect the privacy and well-being of young Facebook users. The legislation is designed to both safeguard children from potential predators as well as protect them from being exploited by social media companies themselves.
The bill, called the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, would prohibit companies like Facebook from using the data of young users in any way that could be “detrimental” to their health and safety. In practice, that means setting strong default privacy settings for children, describing privacy policies in kid-friendly language, and strictly limiting the use of their data.
Mark Weinstein, the founder of a small Facebook competitor called MeWe, praised the bill, telling the Los Angeles Times that it “is an important step forward in protecting our kids’ privacy and critical thinking abilities.”
“Current mainstream social media companies brainwash and addict our kids,” he added. “The act is thoughtful and necessary due to the blind-siding nature of social media companies whose amoral interest is solely in revenue and sticky eyeballs.”
This bill could potentially be an earthquake for Facebook. Because the social media giant is based in California, this legislation could force the company to adjust its privacy policies both in the rest of the U.S. and even around the world. Time will tell if Facebook will fight the bill, but it may ultimately have no choice but to implement stronger privacy policies.
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