Meta Advocates for Parental Control Legislation for Under-16 App Downloads

Meta calls for federal laws mandating parental approval for app downloads by teens under 16, aiming to standardize children's social media use and enhance online safety.

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Key Points

  • Parental Approval for Apps: Meta proposes laws requiring app stores to obtain parental consent for app downloads by under-16s.

  • Social Media Safety Concerns: The move follows criticism of Meta's handling of teen safety on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

  • Uniform Legislation: Meta's safety chief suggests an industry-wide approach to govern children's social media use.

Meta, the parent company of social media giants Instagram and Facebook, has publicly called for the introduction of federal legislation that would enforce parental controls on app downloads by children under the age of 16. This proposal places the responsibility on app stores, such as those operated by Apple and Google, to implement these controls.

Antigone Davis, Meta's global head of safety, emphasized the need for a 'simple, industry-wide solution' in a blog post, suggesting that app stores should notify parents and require their approval when their teen attempts to download an app. This would also involve parents verifying their teen's age during the phone's setup process, thereby reducing the need for repeated age verification across various apps.

The initiative comes in the wake of lawsuits and whistleblower testimonies criticizing Meta for not adequately protecting teens from online harm. While Meta has introduced over 30 tools for online safety, differing local laws in the US, like Utah's recent requirement for parental consent on social media apps, complicate the legal landscape. Davis advocates for national legislation to ensure a consistent standard across all apps used by teens.

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