The Washington Times has published an editorial calling for stricter regulation of Big Tech companies, especially social media platforms, for the sake of children’s mental health and well-being. The editorial cites recent reports and testimonies that reveal how social media algorithms push harmful content on young users, such as self-harm, eating disorders, violence, and extremism.
The whistleblower’s revelations
The editorial refers to the revelations made by Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, who leaked thousands of internal documents to expose the company’s unethical practices. Haugen testified before the US Congress and the UK Parliament, accusing Facebook of prioritizing profits over people’s safety and democracy. She also claimed that Facebook knew that its platforms, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, were harming children’s mental health, but did not take adequate measures to address the issue.
According to Haugen, Facebook’s own research showed that 32% of teen girls who felt bad about their bodies said that Instagram made them feel worse, and 13.5% of teen girls said that Instagram was a factor in their suicidal thoughts. She also said that Facebook’s algorithms amplified divisive and hateful content, and that the company failed to prevent the spread of misinformation and foreign interference in elections.
The need for regulation
The editorial argues that Big Tech companies have too much power and influence over the public discourse and the lives of billions of people, especially children, who are more vulnerable and impressionable. The editorial urges lawmakers and regulators to rein in Big Tech’s dominance and hold them accountable for their actions.
The editorial suggests some possible measures to regulate Big Tech, such as:
- Breaking up the monopolies of Big Tech companies and promoting competition and innovation in the digital market.
- Imposing fines and penalties for violating privacy and consumer protection laws, and enforcing transparency and accountability standards for Big Tech’s operations and algorithms.
- Creating a federal agency or commission to oversee and regulate Big Tech’s activities and protect the public interest and the rights of users.
- Empowering users to control their own data and online experience, and giving them the option to opt out of harmful or unwanted content and features.
- Educating and raising awareness among parents, teachers, and children about the risks and benefits of using social media and other digital platforms, and providing them with the tools and resources to cope with the challenges and opportunities of the digital age.
The editorial’s conclusion
The editorial concludes by stating that Big Tech’s harmful practices cannot be ignored or tolerated any longer, and that the time has come to take action and protect the mental health and well-being of children and society at large. The editorial calls on the public and the policymakers to join forces and demand change from Big Tech, and to ensure that the digital world is a safe and positive place for everyone.