UK's Bold Move: Banning Kids Under-13 on Social Media
Sep 21, 2023
Setting the Stage
We've got some important news to share with you. Michelle Donelan, the Technology Secretary, recently had a chat with The Telegraph, shedding light on the government's firm stance on underage social media use. As the Online Safety Bill makes its way back to Parliament, it seems the government is not mincing words when it comes to protecting youngsters on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok.
The New Mandate: Protecting the Under-13s
It's no secret that the online world can sometimes be a bit of a wild west, especially for the younger ones among us. The government is stepping up, advocating for a "zero tolerance" policy towards children under 13 using these platforms. Donelan is quite clear on this: it's time to put a full stop to underage children's accounts, even if it means deactivating those belonging to eight or nine-year-olds.
The Role of Social Media Firms: A Call to Action
Now, onto the big players in the industry. It seems they're not sitting idle. Companies like Meta (the folks behind Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) are rolling up their sleeves, introducing measures like video age verification tests to keep under-13s at bay. Snapchat is also joining the fray, blocking sign-up attempts from the underage crowd by the tens of thousands each month.
The Potential Repercussions: A Closer Look at the 'Humongous' Fines
Ofcom, the regulator at the helm of this new regime, has some startling stats: a whopping 60% of eight to eleven-year-olds might already have social media profiles. And here's the kicker: companies might face fines up to 10% of their global turnover if they don't tighten the reins on age restrictions. Persistent non-compliance? That could mean a jail term for company bigwigs.
As we near the year's end, we're all eyes on the draft code of practice that's set to raise the bar for age-appropriate checks on social media platforms. Donelan is urging companies to stick to the rules, acknowledging that while some young folks are quite tech-savvy, safeguarding their online experience is paramount.
She also gave a heads-up to companies thinking of packing their bags and leaving the UK market: similar regulations are cropping up globally. It seems this isn't just a government initiative, but a heartfelt plea from parents wanting to shield their children from the darker corners of the internet.
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