A hot potato: Social media sites have long faced criticism for the negative effects they can have on children. In the UK, proposed guidelines have been put forward by the government to improve child safety on these platforms, including the removal of the Like button.
The Information Commissioner's Office has compiled the draft code, which says “nudge” techniques such as Likes and Snapchat streaks that are used to keep under-18s online longer should not be allowed.
The code, now under consultation, puts forward 16 standards that social media companies should meet. In addition to banning the Like button for young people, it’s suggested that a “high privacy” setting is enabled by default unless there is a compelling reason not to.
We’ve launched the draft of our Age Appropriate Design code, which sets the standards for those designing, developing and providing online services to children.— ICO (@ICOnews) April 15, 2019
The list also states that companies should not use nudge techniques to encourage children to hand over unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy protections, or extend their use.
“This is the connected generation. The internet and all its wonders are hardwired into their everyday lives,” said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
“We shouldn’t have to prevent our children from being able to use it, but we must demand that they are protected when they do. This code does that.”
The UK’s NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) welcomed the proposed changes, adding that social networks had “continually failed to prioritise child safety in their design,” resulting in “tragic consequences.” Others, however, believe the “draconian” rules go too far, and that parents should do more to keep their children safe online.
It will be some time before any potential action is taken. Consultations for the report are set to continue through to May 31, and the final version isn’t expected to come into force until next year.