States Ask Snap and TikTok to Give Parents More Control Over Apps

A group of attorney generals on Tuesday called on Snap and TikTok to work more closely with parental control apps and implement more verification of inappropriate content on their platforms, the latest in a growing fight between the government and social media companies over child protection.

The attorney general of 43 states and territories said in a letter to two app executives that he was concerned that companies were “not taking appropriate steps to allow parents to protect their children on your platform.” In particular, officials said Snap, which makes the Snapchat app, and TikTok should work more closely with third-party parental control services.

Some have expressed concern that third-party parental controls survey young people but do little to prevent them from exposing themselves to harmful material. The attorney general said in a letter organized by the National Association of Attorney Generals that they do not endorse certain parental control products. They also called on companies to tighten their own parental supervision tools and do a better job of weeding out material that could be harmful to children.

Concerns that popular social media platforms may expose children to posts that are sexual, hurt their body image or are violent have increased in recent years. The state’s attorney general is currently investigating whether Tiktok, part of Metani-owned Facebook and Chinese group ByteDance, harmed young people. President Biden also called for new online privacy rules for children in his State of the Union address earlier this month.

The interest in this issue is global. The UK has released guidelines on how tech companies can design services without violating the child’s privacy, which encourages some companies to introduce new parental controls around the world. Britain is currently considering broadening the online security legislation enacted by its media regulator.

“We are currently developing new tools for parents that will give them more insight and visibility into how their children connect and get into trouble on Snapchat,” said Snap spokeswoman Rachel Recusen. She said the tools will debut “in the coming months”.

Tiktok did not respond to a request for comment.

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