Hawley proposes ban on social media for kids under 16

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
Greg Nash
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) speaks to reporters outside the Senate Chamber during votes on Tuesday, February 14, 2023.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced a bill on Tuesday to ban children under 16 years old from using social media. 

The legislation, which is entitled the Making Age-Verification Technology Uniform, Robust, and Effective (MATURE) Act, would require social media companies to not allow a person to make an account unless the platform verifies that the user is at least 16 years old. 

Users who want to create accounts would need to provide their full legal name, date of birth and a scan, image or upload of a government-issued identification that verifies their name and birth date. 

“Children suffer every day from the effects of social media. At best, Big Tech companies are neglecting our children’s health and monetizing their personal information. At worst, they are complicit in their exploitation and manipulation. It’s time to give parents the weapons they need to strike back,” Hawley said in a release

The legislation would also set up regular audits that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducts at least once every six months to ensure that the large platforms are complying. The FTC would conduct the audits by comparing the age verification data from a random sample of all accounts since the previous audit to state and federal records to confirm the users’ ages. 

Hawley also introduced the Federal Social Media Research Act on Tuesday to commission a government report on the “harm of social media on kids.” He said well-funded research on the scale of social media’s effect on children should be conducted. 

That bill would also fund a longitudinal study to track the effect of social media over 10 years. 

A study released last month found that social media use might affect youth brain development. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy also said last month that 13-year-olds were too young to join social media, arguing that they do a “disservice” to adolescents who are just developing their identities.

Tags big tech Federal Social Media Research Act Federal Trade Commission Josh Hawley Josh Hawley MATURE Act Social media social media platforms Vivek Murthy

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