Supports FTC Petition to Set Rules Against “Manipulating” Children Online – Common Dreams | Wonder Mind Kids

A coalition of health and privacy advocates filed a petition on Thursday urging the US Federal Trade Commission to create rules that would ban social media platforms and app developers from intentionally tricking children and teens into doing so to spend more and more hours on the internet where their sensitive data is sold to for-profit advertisers.

“The hyper-personalized, data-driven advertising business model has hijacked our children’s lives.”

“When minors go online, they are bombarded with common design features that have been carefully crafted and refined to maximize the time users spend online and the activities users engage in,” the petition reads was written by the Communications and Technology Law Clinic at Georgetown University.

Led by Fairplay and the Center for Digital Democracy, 21 groups called on the FTC to “establish rules to clarify when these design practices cross the line of unlawful unfairness.”

The petition states, “The vast majority of apps, games and services popular with minors generate revenue primarily through advertising, and many employ sophisticated techniques to foster lucrative long-term relationships between minors and their brands.”

In an accompanying blog post, Fairplay education executive Rachel Franz details some of the manipulative “user retention tactics” that TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other companies use to entice young people online and undermine their health-being .

Common techniques include autoplay, endless scrolling, and strategically timed ads, as detailed below.

“Kids have a hard time putting down their digital devices, and that’s what tech companies want,” Franz wrote. despite the myriad harms they cause.”

“We know that excessive online time crowds out sleep and physical activity and impairs the physical and mental health, growth and academic performance of minors,” she continued. “Features designed to maximize engagement also expose minors to potential predators and online bullies and age-inappropriate content, damage minors’ self-esteem and increase the risk of eating disorders and suicidality. The manipulative tactics also undermine the privacy of children and young people by encouraging the disclosure of large amounts of sensitive user data.”

Franz added that “now is the time for the FTC to declare these practices unfair.”

The new petition comes just months after California enacted its Age Appropriate Design Code — a law requiring digital platforms to “priority to the privacy, safety and well-being of children over profits” — and as pressure on the US Congress grows to pass the Kids and Online Safety Act and the Online Privacy Protection Act for Children and Young People.

“The manipulative tactics described in this petition, employed by social media platforms and apps popular with children and young people, are not only detrimental to young people’s development – they are unlawful,” Fair Play politician Haley Hinkle said in a statement . “The FTC should exercise its authority to prohibit these unfair practices and send a message to Big Tech that manipulating minors into giving up their time and information is unacceptable.”

For Katharina Kopp, Associate Director of the Center for Digital Democracy, “The business model of hyper-personalized, data-driven advertising has hijacked our children’s lives.”

Echoing others, Kopp noted that “the design traits of social media and games have been deliberately engineered to keep young people online longer and to satisfy advertisers.” She called on the FTC to “put in place safeguards to ensure platforms and publishers design their online content in a way that puts the well-being of young people ahead of the interests of marketers.”

dr Jenny Radesky, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan and chair-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media, said, “As a pediatrician, I help parents and teens navigate the increasingly complex digital landscape in a healthy environment path has become a core aspect of my work.”

“When the digital environment is designed to support children’s healthy relationships with media, it becomes much easier for families to create boundaries that support children’s sleep, friendships, and safe exploration,” Radesky said. “However, this petition highlights how many platforms and games are designed to actually do the opposite: encouraging longer time on devices, more social comparisons, and greater monetization of attention.”

“Kids and teens tell us that these types of designs actually make their experiences across platforms and apps worse, not better,” she added. “As such, we are asking federal agencies to implement safeguards to protect against the manipulation of children’s behavior and instead prioritize their developmental needs.”

Leave a Comment