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Issue One and its Council for Responsible Social Media call on Congress to adopt responsible social media safeguards now

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Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

Today, Issue One and its Council for Responsible Social Media are calling on Congress to holistically address the social media crisis by enacting responsible safeguards and setting the same government standards for big tech that we set for other addictive products.

Issue One launched the Council in 2022. It is among the most prominent groups of its kind that’s ever come together to speak in one voice about the need for greater accountability from social media platforms. This week, Issue One and the Council are calling on Congress to work together and adopt responsible safeguards that keep kids safe from addictive and manipulative content and protect our national security from the unintended consequences of rapidly evolving AI technologies.

“Social media today is not only robbing children of their social skills and harming their ability to think for themselves, but adversaries like Russia and China are taking advantage of these technologies to spread lies and exploit divisions among Americans,” said Dick Gephardt, former U.S. House Majority Leader and co-chair of the Council. “Congress has not passed meaningful tech reform since 1996 when the internet was in its infancy. It’s time for that to change. Republicans and Democrats must work together now so that social media no longer poses a threat to our kids and national security.”

This renewed push is guided by the following principles:

  1. Our children, our communities, and our national security must come first. No longer can Big Tech be allowed to design addictive products, harvest user data, and manipulate users to maximize their profits with no regard to the consequences.
  2. Americans have a fundamental right to privacy. Congress must stop social media platforms from collecting our information without permission, and collect only the data they need to operate effectively and in the interest of consumers.
  3. Social media products must protect the mental, physical, and developmental health of American children. This includes ending addictive practices like the endless scroll and targeted advertising to minors.
  4. We have a right to know how social media technology is controlling the content we see and the impact on our health and wellbeing. Parents should be able to easily understand how these platforms are designed and operated.
  5. Social media platforms must adopt safeguards to prioritize fact-based information to stop foreign and domestic adversaries from spreading false or misleading information.

“Social media is addictive, manipulative, and dangerous for children, and the American people clearly want action,” said Alix Fraser, director of the Council for Responsible Social Media. “These platforms collect our personal information without express consent, control what we see with manipulative algorithms, and only care about maximizing their profits. Enough is enough. In the same way that the FDA keeps our medicines safe, we deserve responsible safeguards that work for children, parents, and families across America.”

Issue One recently partnered with renowned communications expert Frank Luntz to conduct public opinion research regarding the impact of social media and artificial intelligence (AI) on people’s lives and social media reform as a public policy priority. The findings revealed how deeply personal this issue is for Americans. More than one in three (34%) have been or know someone who has been harmed by social media – for moms, nearly half (47%) noted these harms.

The adverse impact on truth and the quality of information is also a compelling issue for both Republicans and Democrats. A third of all Americans, evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats, say they can’t tell what’s true and not true on social media platforms. At a time when “the truth” is the single highest priority among the American population, this finding is among the most alarming.

While the public thinks it is the responsibility of parents to manage their children’s relationship with social media platforms, they alone can’t make the platforms safer and need help. When asked if the government should address the potential impact of social media, only 23% of the public responded “no.”

This sentiment was also reflected in a national poll that Issue One and the Council for Responsible Social Media conducted earlier this year in partnership with Citizen Data, which found overwhelming bipartisan support for social media reforms. 8 in 10 Americans hold social media responsible for bullying, childhood mental health struggles, and the spreading of false information, and just 7 in 100 see social media’s impact on children as more positive than negative. In total, 8 in 10 said more needs to be done to increase transparency, ensure privacy, and protect children, including 84 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrats.

To learn more about Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media and our efforts to create a safe and healthy online ecosystem, click here.