Is it time to ban social media 'likes' for children?

Posted Apr 16, 2019 by Tim Sandle
Due to the prevalence of cyberbullying and concerns over data privacy, campaigners have proposed blocking young people from 'liking' or 'disliking' posts on social media. This has been picked up by the U.K. government, which is proposing new restrictions.
The next phase of retail will be defined by individual experiences
The next phase of retail will be defined by individual experiences
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In the U.K., campaign groups have been successful in persuading the British government to take action. This has led the privacy regulator propose stopping children and young people from having the functionality to 'like' posts on Facebook and other social media sites. This comes under the auspice of protecting children's online privacy.
The proposal, if agreed, would become a legal requirement that social media companies operating services accessible to he U.K. would need to conform to. The detailed proposals have been set out by the Information Commissioner's Office ( a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament and which is funded by the government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport).
The regulatory body states: "We’re setting out the standards expected of those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children, when they process their personal data."
This comes in the form of a proposal titled "Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services", which has been published for consultation purposes. The document contains ten sections which each social media provider, should the proposal be agreed by the U.K. parliament, must assess and respond to. This includes sections like "Best interests of the child", "Age-appropriate application", and "Data sharing" (which means not disclosing a child’s data unless it can demonstrated there is a compelling reason to do so).
READ MORE: U.K. plans social media watchdog to assess harmful content
Stemming out from this is the need to crack down on so-called "reward loops". These are designed to encourage people to continue using a site so that more of their personal data can be collected, as with "likes" on Facebook and Instagram or "streaks" on Snapchat.
Also linked with this as the recent concerns about social media affecting the mental health of young people, and the cases of self-harm together with a few cases of unhappiness triggered from social media use or events leading to suicide. In relation to this, the U.K. government is also set to draw up legislation that will require social media companies to protect users from harmful content.