ROCHESTER, Minn. - For better or worse social media consumers our daily lives, and while adults may be better equipped to handle the responsibility of navigating the platforms, children are assuredly more vulnerable.
That’s why U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is setting out to address content and privacy concerns regarding digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
Klobuchar held a virtual roundtable discussion with Minnesota parents on Thursday to address concerns as social media is integrated into school curriculum and used daily by teenagers, and even children, to keep in touch with friends.
Parent Natalie Kennedy shared during the discussion, “While I can eliminate social media for my daughter, I can take away her phone, I can take away those apps, I can't remove the fact that this is part of her reality that she's growing into. So, removing it now doesn't mean so much if she doesn't learn to manage it responsibly.”
It’s a concern shared by fellow Minnesota mom Mara Hanel. She added, “Our girls are preyed upon on Instagram. So if, as a parent, I could have information on how to make sure they have the correct setting or it comes in as that correct setting then they won't have anyone they don't want to be looking at their images as the default.”
Klobuchar is working to hold social media platforms accountable; from algorithms that promote troubling content to harmful misinformation and data mining, there are many areas she believes need change.
“We know the consequences are so serious with eating disorders, and the like, and part of what I want to get are solutions,” explained Klobuchar. “The first solution is better privacy protections because we know people don't really want their data to be used. “
The senator says some of the first steps include enhancing privacy laws, allowing users greater control over their data, and bringing a market approach to social media platforms.
She said, “One solution to this, in addition to regulation, is allowing the market - allowing new companies to blossom that have more protection on them or by making sure young kids aren't even using their products by making people register for who they are.”
Klobuchar has already co-sponsored the Health Misinformation Act which targets a provision of the Communications Decency Act that protects platforms from being held liable for what their users post in most cases.
In a news release, Klobuchar also says she's sent several letters to the leaders of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Youtube calling on them to take action to stop the spread of false and misleading information related to Coronavirus vaccines.