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Friday, June 24, 2022

California parents may soon sue TikTok, Instagram and other tech companies for social media addiction

by Adam Beam | The Associated Press

Sacramento — California may soon hold social media companies responsible for harm to children who have become addicted to their products, the state said Monday for infringing parents on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Allows to sue under a bill passed in the assembly.

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, right, smiles after his bill to hold social media companies accountable for harm to children who have become addicted to their products, assembly on Monday, May at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. was approved by 23, 2022. If approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill would let parents sue platforms like Instagram and TikTok for $25,000 per infringement. On the left is Member of the Legislative Assembly Chad Mayes, I-Yucca Valley. ( Associated Press Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The bill defines “addicts” as children under the age of 18 who cause physical, mental, emotional, developmental or physical harm to both – and who want to stop or stop how much time they spend on social media. , but they can’t because they are busy or obsessed with it.

Business groups have warned that if the bill passes, social media companies will shut down operations for children in California rather than face legal risk.

The offer would only apply to social media companies that had at least $100 million in gross revenue over the past year, which appear to be targeting social media giants like Facebook and others that dominate the market. .

This will not apply to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, or to companies offering only email and text messaging services.

“The era of autocratic social experimentation on children is over and we will protect children,” said Assembly member Jordan Cunningham, a San Luis Obispo County Republican and the bill’s author.

Monday’s vote is an important – but not final – step for the legislation. The bill now goes to the state Senate, where it will go through several weeks of hearings and negotiations between lawmakers and advocates. But Monday’s vote keeps the bill alive this year.

The bill gives social media companies two avenues to avoid liability in the courts. If the bill becomes law, it will take effect from January 1. Companies that remove features that allow children to be addicted by April 1 will not be responsible for damages.

Also, companies that regularly audit their practices to identify and remove features that may be addictive to children will be immune to lawsuits.

Despite those provisions, business groups have opposed the bill. TechNet, a bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior executives, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that if the bill becomes law, “social media companies and online web services will have no way of stopping operations for children under the age of 18.” There will be no choice but to apply and strict age-verification is done to ensure that teens don’t use their sites.”

“There is no social media company, let alone any business that can bear that legal risk,” the group wrote.

World Nation News Desk
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