Hawley Proposes Bill To “Protect Kids” From Social Media
In an interview with NBC News, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced that he plans to sponsor legislation to “protect kids” by setting a minimum age of 16 for people to use social media — while also commissioning a study on the impact of social media on young people’s well-being.
“For me, this is about protecting kids, protecting their mental health, protecting their safety,” Hawley said during the February 7 interview. “There’s ample evidence to this effect that big tech companies put their profits ahead of protecting kids online.”
The Republican senator believes he can draw bipartisan support for his legislation.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with Democrats across the aisle and over the years about this topic generally and about different pieces of this,” Hawley said. “I don’t see this as a partisan issue. I mean, this is about protecting kids from the irresponsible and rapacious big tech companies. Every parent in America, whatever your political persuasion, or if you have none, can agree with that.”
He also argued that his legislation is necessary to protect young, impressionable users from peer pressure, harassment, invasions of privacy and other harmful effects for which social media has been criticized.
Hawley has long been critical of youth having access to social media accounts — especially Chinese-owned TikTok, which has been under fire from Congress over spying on users’ accounts and promoting degeneracy to Americans.
The Republican senator made this announcement days after some of the harshest public criticism directed at TikTok, with even Democrats calling for action against the Chinese-owned app.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently urged the Biden administration to take more aggressive action to monitor the gathering of data conducted by TikTok — as well as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence over the platform’s content.
Hawley’s proposed legislation also comes just a few weeks after a United Kingdom court released a decision that directly blamed Facebook’s parent company Meta for the suicide of a 14-year-old girl, Molly Russell. The coroner asserted that the teen’s death from self-harm resulted directly from “depression and the negative effects of online content.” The court ruling stated that social media “affected her mental health in a negative way and contributed to her death in a more than minimal way.”