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Virginia ban on ‘addictive feeds’ advances over industry pushback

Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

If you’ve ever looked over the shoulder of your kid as they play on their phone, you might have noticed how different their social media feeds are - and how much they can’t seem to be pulled away. One legislator is hoping to combat that.

“Tik-Tok keeps sending you videos, alright? And they’ll keep you on the algorithmic feed forever,” said Henrico-area Democratic Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg as he defended his  bill which would ban the use of so-called “addictive feeds” for minors on social media platforms.

This story was reported and written by Radio IQ

The Senator said any parent - or teacher, he’s a teacher when he’s not in the Senate - is familiar with how hard it is to get kids off their phones. He argued social media companies were designing their platforms to keep them there. His solution? Ban “addictive feeds” on children’s accounts.

But Elizabeth Raferty with the Northern Virginia Technology Council was worried about the term “addictive feed” and how it would impact other algorithmic tools used by social media sites.

“I’m not certain any technology company in Virginia can act lawfully with such unclear standards,” Raferty told the committee.

But VanValkenburg argued users provide plenty of input when they use a platform and he doesn’t think Big Tech is helping by flooding the zone. And he said he’s seen kids get dragged into endless video feeds that are teaching them bad habits, like vaping.

“The way they’re curating feeds for minors right now is atrocious," he said. "That's the reason for the bill."

The bill passed nearly unanimously and is now headed to the Senate floor. Another  bill from VanValkenburg that limits social media companies’ collection and use of data from minors also successfully passed.

It’s  mirror in the House passed out of the House Wednesday.