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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

Lawmakers back surgeon general’s call for warning on social media platforms

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Congress members are very supportive of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s proposal to place a warning label on social media to inform minors and their parents about the platforms’ potential negative impacts on mental health. In Lawmakers back surgeon general’s call for warning on social media platforms New York Times op-ed Monday, June 17, Murthy said a surgeon general’s warning requires congressional approval and multiple lawmakers said they think Congress should look into it. 

“It is urgent for Congress to act,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,  said. “The surgeon general is pulling together with the evidence which has become overwhelming that certain aspects of social media are damaging to our children. Our first responsibility should be to protect our children and it’s something we’re not doing right now.”

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“It’s an intriguing idea,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said. “We know that far too many young people are exposed to far too many things on social media is troubling for this generation.” 

In the op-ed, Murthy called the mental health crisis in young people an emergency and said social media is an important contributor. 

The proposed warning label would be similar to those on cigarettes and tobacco, which have been effective. When Congress authorized the labels in 1965, approximately 42% of U.S. adults were daily smokers. That number decreased to 11.5% in 2021. 

The warning label could be approved by itself or as an amendment to one of the many bills Congress is considering to make social media a more positive place for young people. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s Kids Online Safety Act has 69 co-sponsors evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. The bill requires platforms to give minors the ability to protect their personal data, make the strongest privacy settings default, and give kids the option to opt out of algorithmic recommendations. 

Blumenthal said some of the requirements in his bill, like giving parents and educators a dedicated channel to report harmful behavior, align with Murthy’s proposal. 

“I support these warnings because social media poses such a grave, imminent danger to kids with toxic content on bullying and eating disorders and much more,” Blumenthal said. “And this kind of alert, raising an alarm to parents, as well as top young people is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., has another proposal that would prohibit companies from collecting data on kids 16 and younger without their consent in addition to creating a “delete” button for parents so they can erase data that has been collected from their child. 

“I think it’s a good idea,” Cassidy said of the warning label.

There are no votes scheduled on major social media or Big Tech legislation. Parent groups wrote to Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in May demanding that he bring the Kids Online Safety Act up for a vote. 

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Ray Bogan: Members of Congress are very supportive of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s new proposal to place a warning label on social media to inform minors and their parents about the platforms’ negative impacts on mental health.

In a New York Times op-ed Monday, Murthy said a surgeon general’s warning requires congressional approval and multiple lawmakers said they think Congress should look into it. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA: “It is urgent for Congress to act. The Surgeon General is pulling together with the evidence which has become overwhelming that certain aspects of social media are damaging to our children. Our first responsibility should be to protect our children. And it’s something we’re not doing right now.” 

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH: “It’s an intriguing idea. We know that far too many young people are exposed to far too many things on social media is troubling for this generation.” 

Ray Bogan: In the op-ed, Murthy called the mental health crisis in young people an emergency and said social media is an important contributor. 

The warning label he’s calling for would be similar to those on cigarettes and tobacco which have been effective. When Congress authorized the labels in 1965, approximately 42% of US adults were daily smokers, that decreased to 11.5% in 2021. 

The warning label could be approved by itself, or as an amendment to one of the many bills Congress is considering to make social media a more positive place for young people. 

Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Kids Online Safety Act has 69 co-sponsors evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. 

The bill requires platforms to give minors the ability to protect their personal data, make the strongest privacy settings the default, and give kids the option to opt out of algorithmic recommendations. 

Blumenthal says some of the requirements in his bill, like giving parents and educators a dedicated channel to report harmful behavior, align with Murthy’s proposal. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT: “I support these warnings because social media poses such a grave, imminent danger to kids with toxic content on bullying and eating disorders and much more. And this kind of alert, raising an alarm to parents, as well as says young people is absolutely the right thing to do.” 

Ray Bogan: Senator Bill Cassidy has another proposal that would prohibit companies from collecting data on kids 16 and younger without their consent in addition to other safety measures. 

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA :I think it’s a good idea, an eraser button for parents to be able to hit delete, so that their, whatever child has happened to have been scraped from scrape from their child is can be deleted.”

Ray Bogan: Straight Arrow News speaks with lawmakers on a regular basis about their efforts to regulate big tech, so download the Straight Arrow News App for updates from Capitol Hill.