A survey examining 2000 subjects found 3 of youth

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the law needs to change to ensure users understand the importance of the age restrictions. A survey examining 2,000 subjects found 3% of youth ages 9-18 years old read the terms and conditions of privacy before joining the social media site. Also, only 31% knew about the age limit of 13. 7 The lack of knowledge presented by users proves that the FTC needs to increase efforts in protecting child privacy by educating parents and users of the platforms. This could be accomplished by requiring government identification numbers to validate the ages of its users or using pop-up windows to educate users on the platform. A simplistic approach would be to fine social media companies that allow users to violate COPPA laws. However, Margaret Thatcher encourages the application of industry research in finding solutions. In her speech to the United Nations in 1989 she explained, “...we must resist simplistic urge to blame modern multinational industry(s) for the damage which is being done...far from being villains, it is on them that we rely on the research and find solutions.” Common social media platforms are known for constantly running algorithms and tests to find ways to increase users’ time, re-visibility, and specific ads. If we use these algorithms to find underage users, we already have part of the problem solved. Few social media sites practice this. The only major sites that report deleting underage user accounts are YouTube and WhatsApp. Instead of blaming these organizations, we should use their mathematical discoveries and facial recognition software to create an algorithm to find underage users, investigate them, and block them from underage use of the platform. According to Minkus, Liu, and Ross, “If a child’s face is detected in a photo, a message can be displayed to encourage the user to select more private settings for the post. Alternatively, Facebook could implement a policy to automatically restrict photos containing children to a more private sharing setting. This would be similar to a past
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policy regarding teens, whose posts could only be shown to friends-only audiences.” 8 As Margaret Thatcher proposed, the government and technology companies can view each other as a team instead of being in conflict with one another on this important issue. Surprisingly, the youth affected negatively by social media the most are the ages who are legally allowed on the platform including adolescents ages 13-17. Social media’s detrimental effects are rising, and we need to stop them. Therefore, if the rising generations are to reach their full potential with fewer mental health challenges and lower suicide risk, the social media minimum age requirement needs to be changed. Updating COPPA laws by increasing the minimum social media age would allow citizens to wait until the appropriate time for them to handle the daunting task of tackling aggressive or predatory users and manipulative platforms.
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  • Fall '19
  • Internet privacy

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