Social Media Harms
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Social Media Harms

Social Media Harms

21 U.S. Senators Act to Reign In Big Tech Abuses

Will Online Safety, Fair Competition Win Out Over Campaign Contributions?

Photo by Mirah Curzer on Unsplash

Meta, Google, Amazon and Apple spent more than $55M on federal lobbying activities in 2021, an increase from $34M in 2021, according to Politico’s Digital Future Daily newsletter. These firms, and many other technology firms, are concerned that any U.S. legislation will add unwanted constraints to the lightly regulated technology industry, negatively affecting their profits.

The U. S. needs to catch up with the European Union, China, and the United Kingdom and pass legislation that defines and enforces protections for people who use internet services. Given the lack of comprehensive internet regulation in the U.S., any one of the pieces of legislation below would make internet services safer and provide important protections for U.S. consumers:

  1. The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) creates a legal obligation requiring technology companies to operate in the best interests of minors 16 and under who use their services. This legislation includes provisions that:
  • EmpowerParent the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and states Attorneys General to fine technology companies that do not follow regulations that protect users 16 and under from social media harms, especially around depression, suicide, and eating disorders;
  • Provide parents and youth tools and safeguards to protect a young user’s experience on social media.
  • Allow scientists access to social media company data to conduct research in the public interest.

2. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act “prohibits anti-competitive conduct that hurts small businesses, stifles innovation, and forces consumers to pay more for fewer choices.”

The Act:

  • Protects competition by prohibiting gatekeeper platforms from highlighting their own products and services to the detriment of smaller online businesses; taking customers’ non-public data to create imitation products or to otherwise compete against those businesses; or making businesses purchase other services as a condition of getting preferential search rankings or placement on their platforms.
  • Gives the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, states Attorneys General and the U.S. Justice Department authority to enforce regulations in an effort to prohibit illegal activities.

3. The SMART Copyright Act of 2022 encourages technology companies to “adopt technical measures to combat stealing and facilitate sharing of critical copyright data.” Key provisions include:

  • Retains existing legal requirement in 17 USC 512(i) that service providers must “accommodate and not interfere with” standard technical measures to qualify for safe harbor immunity for copyright infringement on their services.
  • Expands ways to qualify for “standard technical measures” (STMs).
  • Provides Public Triennial Rulemaking to Designate Technical Measures (DTMs).
  • Creates Chief Technology Advisor and Chief Economist Positions in the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • Penalizes Big Tech for Not Stopping Copyright Theft. Creates new liability for internet service providers hosting user content who do not comply with Designate Technical Measures, making them liable for actual or statutory damages.

Below is a listing of the Senators who have sponsored and/or co-sponsored the above bills. These senators will no doubt be penalized through a lack of campaign funding or other tactics by Big Tech for their support of internet regulation.

  1. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  2. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
  3. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
  4. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
  5. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA)
  6. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
  7. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
  8. Senator Shelly Caputo (R-WV)
  9. Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)
  10. Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO)
  11. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  12. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  13. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC)
  14. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)
  15. Senator Cory Booker (D-NY)
  16. Senator Maise Hirono (D-HI)
  17. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO)
  18. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
  19. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
  20. Senator Thomas Tillis (R-NC)
  21. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

There aren’t many senators out there who are willing to take heroic actions to ensure the safety and welfare of the public in these troubled days. Please tell them that you support them and their efforts to make the internet more safe and fair for consumers.

Can we get another 79 brave U.S. Senators to join them? Please contact your Senators and ask them to support internet regulation.

Social Media Harms provides a listing of peer-reviewed studies, scholarly books, and articles from authoritative sources that document the negative effects of social media use. The site also lists links to organizations dedicated to reducing the harms created by social media platforms and other online services. We do not solicit donations, however, we are asking for additions to our lists of peer reviewed studies and authoritative books and articles.

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