A group of attorneys general on Tuesday urged Snap and TikTok to work more closely with parental control apps and investigate inappropriate content on their platforms more closely, the latest salvo in a growing child protection battle between governments and social media companies.
Attorneys general from 43 states and territories said in a letter to executives of the two apps they are concerned the companies are “not taking adequate steps to allow parents to protect their children on their platforms.” Specifically, officials said Snap, which makes the Snapchat app, and TikTok should work more closely with third-party parental control services.
Some people have expressed concern that third-party parental controls monitor young people, but does little to actually stop them from encountering harmful content. The attorneys general said in the letter, organized by the National Association of Attorneys General, that they do not endorse any particular parental control product. They also urged companies to strengthen their own parental control tools and screen out content that could be harmful to children.
Concerns that popular social media platforms may expose children to posts that are sexualized, hurt their body image, or are violent have escalated in recent years. Attorneys general are currently investigating whether Facebook, which belongs to Meta, and TikTok, part of Chinese conglomerate ByteDance, put youths at risk. President Biden also called for new online privacy rules for children in his State of the Union address earlier this month.
The interest in the topic is worldwide. The UK has issued guidelines on how tech companies can design services without infringing on a child’s privacy, prompting some companies to introduce new parental controls around the world. The UK is also considering sweeping online safety legislation, which would be enforced by its media regulator.
“We are currently developing new tools for parents that will give them more insight and transparency into how their children are engaging on Snapchat and ways to report troubling content,” said Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for Snap. She said the tools would be coming to market “in the coming months.”
Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, said the company appreciates “Attorneys General’s focus on keeping younger users safe, and we look forward to engaging with them about our existing features and ideas for future innovations in this area.” “.