Do tech companies care about young people’s wellbeing?
The implementation of the Digital Services Act is their chance to prove it.
Tomorrow, social media and tech companies will publish their assessments of the risk that their platforms pose to society. This is a crucial step towards transparency and accountability, but will it be enough to protect young people’s wellbeing online?
As the world’s biggest companies will start implementing the Digital Services Act, we expect them to be honest about the impact of social media on our democracies, our civic discourse and - crucially - our physical and mental health. We hope that tech companies will publish the risk assessments in full, and not hide behind the veil of business secrets. Understanding the scope of the problem will be the first step to mitigating it. If taken seriously, the risk assessments are probably going to be damning.
let’s look at the facts
We know that 74% of young people report spending more time on social media than they would like to. Young people are twice as likely to struggle with disconnecting than their parents. Every year thousands of young people report cases of bullying and harassment, sexual content, violence, self-harm or suicidal content and hate speech. This is the world that young people live in and they need to have a voice to shape it.
what has already happened
Four months after being designated as Very Large Online Platforms, the world’s favourite social media platforms are racing towards compliance with the EU’s latest rules for the online world. 17 platforms, including Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, met the criteria of 45 million monthly users in the EU.
what new rules will these platforms have to apply?
Apart from the risk assessments they will also have to introduce user-friendly flagging systems, to make it easier for young people to report illegal content such as hate speech. They will have to simplify their terms and conditions and publish information about how their algorithms suggest content to users. A failure to comply could result in fines to the tune of millions of euros.
Digital Services Act and wellbeing
We’re on the verge of a new model of governance for the online world that puts users’ wellbeing at the centre. Young people and youth organisations have all eyes on the platforms to implement the Digital Services Act in good faith to make young people’s experiences online safe and empowering.
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