Why are Google and Facebook spending so much money to try and stop online child safety bills?
· May 21, 2024 · NottheBee.com

Okay, I guess it's really not that hard to figure out:

Google and Meta are spearheading a fierce push to kill New York legislation aimed at protecting children online — and the controversial lobbying battle is poised to surpass $1 million in spending, The Post has learned.

A group of Big Tech firms, advocacy groups and companies from other sectors have spent $823,235 lobbying Albany lawmakers through mid-March as two high-profile bills - the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act - advance toward votes, according to recent public disclosures.

Now, you may still be wondering: Why would big tech companies drop hundreds of thousands of bucks on overpriced lobbyists to combat basic online child safety measures?

You see, the SAFE Act "would crack down on addictive recommendation algorithms used by social media apps" by "requiring them to provide default chronological feeds for users 18 or younger unless they receive parental consent." This would take the addictive, nonstop-stimulation scrolling element out of newsfeeds.

The act "would also allow parents to impose time limits on social media use and in-app notifications."

The data protection act, meanwhile, would "block apps from collecting or selling the personal or location data from users under 18 unless they consent," while "kids under 13 would need a parent's consent."

Big Tech sees these commonsense measures like:

Tech companies depend upon having more-or-less free access to our children to pad their bottom line. Children are an easy, lucrative demographic for Big Tech; they can be very easily shaped and molded into lifelong customers.

Facebook and Google know this, and they know that even modest efforts to institute protections for children can cut deeply into their revenue streams. Now, they can't come just right out and say that: That would be too obvious! So they have to come up with a roundabout way to oppose these very basic bills:

Tech firms have hit back, citing fears that the legislation would stifle freedom of speech, online privacy for teens, limit internet access for migrants and other underserved communities, and essentially disable algorithms that help to crack down on hate speech.

Uh huh. A bill to regulate algorithms and data collection for minors would "stifle freedom of speech."

Seems like a pretty easy choice for lawmakers to make here.

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