In a strategic move, Meta is proposing a significant shift in monitoring teens' social media activity, aiming to place the responsibility on both parents and app stores. Antigone Davis, Meta’s Global Head of Safety, advocates for parental involvement in approving their teens' app downloads. This stance aligns with Meta's support for potential federal legislation mandating parental consent for users under 16 when downloading apps.
Backing this stance, Meta cites recent Pew research revealing that 81% of U.S. adults favor requiring parental consent for teens to create social media accounts. While this reflects public sentiment, the critical question of who should bear the responsibility for regulating teens' access to social media remains unanswered.
Amid ongoing legal challenges, with 42 states and D.C. suing Meta over harms to teens, the company's position faces scrutiny. The legal action, referencing whistleblower Frances Haugen's revelations, highlights Meta's alleged understanding of the harms caused to teens without appropriate action. Despite Instagram head Adam Mosseri defending the app's teen safety record before Congress, a conclusive decision on regulating teen platform usage remains elusive.
Meta's response to internal concerns has been self-regulation, introducing defaults, features, and parental controls to safeguard teens' online experiences. However, whistleblower Arturo Bejar recently raised concerns about Instagram's efficacy in protecting teens from sexual predators and harassment, arguing that existing safety measures were insufficient.
Meta's current policy proposal, emphasizing parental responsibility and app store enforcement, suggests a well-considered strategy rather than a reactive PR response. In the absence of comprehensive federal guidelines, Meta's call to involve app stores in enforcing existing age guidelines underscores the company's commitment to navigating the regulatory landscape proactively.