Social Media Harms

A Parent’s View: The Kids Online Safety Act of 2022

Legislation Creates Legal Duty to Protect Minors, Mandates Public Interest Research/Risk Audits, Addresses Algorithmic Recommendations

Sharon Winkler
Social Media Harms
Published in
3 min readFeb 25, 2022


Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

The U.S. Senate has been busy since its hearings concerning teen on-line safety in September 2021. Since that time, the Senate held four additional hearings regarding children and teens online safety, resulting in Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introducing the Kids Online Safety Act of 2022 on February 16, 2022.

The bill includes recommendations advocated by Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, and contains provisions similar to those found in the United Kingdom’s “Age appropriate design” regulation that took effect in September 2021.

Highlights of the Kids Online Safety Act of 2022 from Senator Blumenthal’s office include:

  • Applies to minors who are 16 years old or younger.
  • Affects any commercial software application or electronic service that connects to the internet and that is used, or is reasonably likely to be used, by a minor.
  • Creates a legal obligation requiring platforms to operate in the best interests of minors that use their products or services. This obligation includes:

preventing harm to minors by preventing and mitigating access to content that promotes: self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual exploitation and unlawful products for minors (such as gambling and alcohol).

  • Mandates default safeguards for minors to include controls to protect against stalking, exploitation, addiction, and other dangerous material.
  • Parental Tools — requires covered platforms to provide parents with tools to supervise minors’ use of a platform, including options to control safety settings, track their time, limit purchases and address addictive usage. Those tools should be enabled by default.
  • Reporting Mechanism — requires platforms to provide minors and parents a dedicated reporting channel to alert the platform about harms and requires the platform to respond in a reasonable and timely manner.
  • Covered platforms that use algorithmic recommendation systems must disclose how they use a minor’s personal data in their system. They must also provide minors and parents options to modify those recommendations, including “the right to opt-out or down-rank types or categories of recommendations.
  • Requires covered platforms to conduct an annual public report identifying the risks of harm to minors based upon an independent, third-party audit.
  • Requires covered platforms to participate in public interest research and allow eligible researchers access to data on harms to minors.
  • Assigns responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission to establish guidelines for covered platforms seeking to conduct market and product-focused research on minors.
  • Age Verification Study and Report. Requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology to conduct “a study evaluating the most technologically feasible options for developing systems to verify age at the device or operating system level.”
  • Charges the Federal Trade Commission with the enforcement of the above mandates and authorizes state attorneys general to take civil actions against covered platforms that do not comply with requirements.

This legislation represents a maturation of legislators’ understanding of the technology involved, resulting in more targeted requirements and more specific methodologies of enforcing adoption of these policies through both state and federal agencies. This bill appears to supersede both the Children’s and Teens Online Privacy Protection Act (CTOPPA) of 2021 and the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act re-introduced in September 2021.

Internet platform companies will resist spending the time and money to implement these requirements. This legislation will only be enacted if the public takes action.

Now is the time to contact your senators and ask them to endorse this important legislation.

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.



Sharon Winkler
Social Media Harms

Publisher/Editor Social Media Harms, Mother, Grandmother, Retired U. S. Naval Officer