'Likely entirely unenforceable': Critics shoot down Josh Hawley's social media age limit proposals
United States Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), who in January sponsored a bill to ban TikTok, announced on Tuesday that he has two proposals to enact age restrictions for social media.
Hawley said in a statement that "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."
The Making Age-Verification Technology Uniform, Robust, and Effective (MATURE) Act "would place a minimum age requirement of 16 years old for all social media users, preventing platforms from offering accounts to those who do not meet the age threshold," Fox News explained, noting that the other measure – the Federal Social Media Research Act – "would commission a government report on the harm of social media for kids. That study, according to the senator's office, would examine and 'track social media's effects on children over 10 years.'"
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The Kansas City Star – Hawley's hometown newspaper which is frequently critical of Hawley and his brand of right-wing politics – pointed out that Hawley's effort "is part of his two-pronged approach to address how social media affects children, alongside an effort to create a panel that would study the harms the sites have on children. But the efficacy of a law setting a minimum social media age was immediately called into question by a panel speaking to the Judiciary Committee about children’s online safety."
The publication added that "sites like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok currently require a minimum age of 13, according to their terms and conditions. But the restrictions are generally easy for children to get around. Lembke, who is currently a 20-year-old student at Washington University of St. Louis, said she started using social media when she was 12."
Hawley also tweeted that "today I’m introducing legislation to set an age requirement of 16 to open a social media account. Protect kids online."
But Tuesday's mass shooting at Michigan State University that left three students dead – the 67th so far in 2023 – was at the forefront of Twitter users' minds, sparking a flurry of reactions filled with anger at Republicans for ignoring the uniquely American problem. And the Missouri GOP voting against preventing kids from accessing guns only made matters worse.
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Jo: "Wait - a 16-year-old isn't mature enough to have a social media account, but Republican legislators in your state just voted to protect a 4-year-old's right to have a firearm without a parent's supervision?"
Ty Ross @email@example.com: "Ahh look, Husain Bolt has entered the chat. Maybe worry about your own kids and I'll worry about mine, Senator Hauling Ass. A minor walking around with an AR-15 is cool, but being online is a bridge too far? You serve no purpose but annoyance, aggravation and delusion."
Rick Smith: "Can you add guns to that as well? Maybe raise the age to 21 along with smokes and booze?"
chip goines: "There was another school shooting last night, Senator. You're focusing on the wrong thing."
There were further questions about how Hawley's ideas would square with the GOP's supposed aversion to government overreach.
Classical Liberal Caucus: "Hi Josh. Which of the enumerated powers in the United States Constitution gives Congress the power to do this? Or is the Constitution no longer relevant to Republicans who need Big Government to raise their kids for them?"
Adam: "So you want to have the government control kids and not let parents choose? I thought you felt parents should know what's right for their kids. I'm very confused @SenHawleyPress."
LiraLoudmouth: "So now it's ok for the government to parent our kids? Sheesh, I can't keep track anymore."
Leslie007: "Ah, the sound of small government coming from 'Conservatives' again."
Shandor: "What does it accomplish? Lie on the signup forms. It's likely entirely unenforceable, with so many loopholes and workarounds it amounts to a virtue signal."
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The Kansas City Star's full article is available at this link(subscription required). Fox News' report can be viewed here.
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