Social media firms must block under-13s from their sites or face ‘humongous’ penalties, says technology minister
Social media firms have been told by the secretary of state for technology that they must block under-13s from their sites or face ‘humongous’ fines.
Michelle Donelan, who is the minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, said the government would pursue a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to allowing young children on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
‘If that means deactivating the accounts of nine-year-olds or eight-year-olds, then they’re going to have to do that,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.
‘Because otherwise the mental toll and the ramifications for these young people is unimaginable and we’re just storing up a bigger problem for tomorrow in terms of the long-term impact that we are going to face.’
Under the proposed bill, Ofcom, will have the power to fine companies up to 10% of their global turnover if they fail to include effective checks to enforce age limits in their terms and conditions.
Britain’s Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan leaves a Cabinet meeting at No. 10 Downing Street
Social media companies could be fined up to 10% of their global turnover if they fail to include effective checks to enforce age limits in their terms and conditions
Company bosses could even potentially face jail terms up to two years as a maximum penalty for failing to fulfil these duties.
The legislation has, however, faced repeated amendments following backlash in the tech industry.
Earlier this year, a study suggested that social media is reprogramming children’s brains and creating a generation of thin-skinned adults.
Youngsters see regions in the brain that control feelings of reward and punishment become overreactive compared to their peers who are not always online.
Researchers say the changes indicate that social media-addicted kids will grow up to become ‘hypersensitive’ to feedback from others.
It comes amid concerns the pandemic has made more children than ever addicted to social media.
Another study has suggested lockdowns damaged their ability to stand up straight because they spent so much time engrossed in technology.
Scientists warn that social media-addicted kids could grow up ‘hypersensitive’ to feedback from others (stock image)