President Biden has called Congress to enact new rules to improve kid safety on Facebook, TikTok, and other social media platforms in his first State of the Union speech. On Tuesday evening, he added, “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, and demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.”
To begin making those measures, the White House will request financing to investigate the issue of kid safety on social media. Biden also plans to ask for $5 million in next year’s budget to study the influence of social media on mental health, as well as the establishment of a “national Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Illness.” It is hoped that fresh recommendations on the impact will be developed as a result of this.
Much of the impetus for the revisions appears to have come from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who was a guest of Jill Biden during the speech. She recently testified in front of Congress, accusing Facebook parent Meta of ignoring the platform’s child safety policies.
Her allegations had an impact on legislators on both sides of the aisle, who agreed that stricter regulations were needed. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) this month, which would provide parents and children more control over their privacy and safety on social media while also establishing new restrictions for social media companies.
Internal records obtained by Haugen revealed that Facebook was aware that up to 3% of teenage females experience depression, anxiety, or self-harm as a result of using Instagram, but nonetheless pursued a teen-specific version of the app. Later, the project was shelved.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger was also in attendance, and he was mentioned in the context of the chipmaker’s $20 billion plan to establish silicon fabrication operations in Ohio. Biden used his speech to call on Congress to adopt the Innovation and Competition Act, which includes billions of dollars in investments in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and semiconductor research.
The president also linked Intel’s intentions to the United States’ efforts to compete with China, claiming that the Innovation Act will help “level the playing field with China and other competitors.”
More local chipmaking was also linked to reducing inflation, which is currently at a four-decade high of 7.5 percent, inflicting tremendous economic hardship in the United States and adding to the Biden administration’s dismal popularity.