Capitol Bracing for Social Media Showdown

Sacramento is preparing for a confrontation over how far the state should go in regulating social media companies that many accuse of making a national contribution Youth mental health crisis.

At the center of the controversy is a statewide first bill co-authored by Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo and Democratic Assembly member Buffy Wicks of Auckland, which in its original form would have allowed California parents to sue. Social media companies for damages caused as a result of children becoming addicted to their products.

A man stands in front of a sign by Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, at its headquarters in Menlo Park last October. Photo: Carlos Barya, Reuters

But, following fierce opposition from the technology industry and concerns from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, that section has been removed. under Amendments released June 30th – A day before the Legislature leaves for a month-long summer break – Only public prosecutors, such as the state’s attorney general and the district attorney’s office, will have the authority to file civil lawsuits against social media giants for deploying designs or features they know will be. Addicted children.

Cunningham told me on Wednesday that he did not feel the proposal, which he described as “the most important bill I had ever worked on,” had been emptied.

If the plaintiffs “had won in court, the court would have issued a state-wide restraining order prohibiting any company from deploying the XYZ product feature, whatever it may be,” he said. “It does not seem to me like a weakened account, it seems like another way to skin the cat.”

But TechNet, a powerful lobbying firm Considered among his friends Mate, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, would have preferred that the cat not remove skin at all.

Dylan Hoffman, CEO of TechNet in California, said Wednesday that the group plans to “implement any legislative means to try to stop the bill.”

“We really do not think California should join people like Texas and Florida in trying to regulate online speech in this way,” Hoffman said, noting that the bill would allow public prosecutors to sue social media companies for every feature they see. Addictive, such as algorithms, push notifications, news updates and continuous scrolling.

  • Hoffman: “We do not think that imposing liability in this way is a good way to solve a very complex and difficult problem such as children’s mental health and access to social networks. Users “.
  • He added: The bill “is such an excessive and extreme means that in our opinion, you know, there is nothing that can be done to change or improve it.”

This could mark a difficult path for Cunningham’s proposal, given what he described as a significant impact of the “technology lobby of technology”.

  • Cunningham: “Republicans usually … kind of allergic to lawsuits. And then the Democrats, a lot of them … are pretty much in love with big tech, for reasons I do not quite understand myself. “You know, big tech carries a lot of weight.”
  • He added: “We have allowed a certain handful of huge social media technology companies to conduct an unlimited social experiment on children. And the results are coming and the data is very, very bad. … this stuff is affecting their brains, the chemistry in their brains, and in some cases, the worst , Manifests itself in physical harm “such as eating disorders, suicide attempts and severe depression.

Cunningham said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the revised version of the bill would make its way to the governor’s desk and be signed into law. But, he said, “it is impossible to really know.”

The next debate on the bill is set for August 1, the day state legislators return to Sacramento.

Note: This item has been updated to reflect that TechNet does not include TikTok among its affiliates.

Capitol Bracing for Social Media Showdown Source link Capitol Bracing for Social Media Showdown

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