- In a blog post published Wednesday, Meta has called for federal legislation to force app stores rather than social media companies to get parents' approval whenever a child between the ages of 13 and 16 downloads an app.1
- According to Meta's global head of safety, Antigone Davis, the law would make it mandatory for app stores to notify parents when their teens want to download an app, similar to how parents are alerted when their children attempt to make an in-app purchase.2
- Meta argues its 'solution' would allow parents to govern their children's social media use, 'negating the need for everyone to verify their age multiple times across multiple apps.'3
- While the blog post doesn't mention Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store by name, if implemented, Meta's proposal could shift much of its responsibility of shielding children using its platforms on rival tech giants.4
- Meta's blog post comes the same day the Senate asked Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's CEO, to 'provide documents related to senior executives' knowledge of the mental and physical health harms associated with its platforms.'5
- This follows federal lawsuits filed by dozens of US states in October — including California and Wisconsin — accusing Meta of deliberately engineering its popular apps to turn children into social media addicts to boost profits.6
- Narrative A, as provided by CNN. Meta has intentionally worked to attract younger users — so far as introducing harmful features on Instagram and Facebook that addict teens and compromise their mental health — as it competes with rival apps such as Snapchat and TikTok. The tech giant needs to do more — like devote adequate resources and staff to safeguarding its most vulnerable users — to protect teens using its platforms rather than pass the buck to parents and app stores.
- Narrative B, as provided by Meta. While implementing tighter controls and processes to stop teens from downloading apps without a parent's approval isn't a foolproof plan, it may be time that the app stores used their gatekeeping power for a broader purpose. Placing the responsibility for parental controls on app stores could add another level of protection, which could facilitate more security and help preserve potentially sensitive identifying information.