Meta just laid out its position in the fight over controlling what kids see online, and it, unsurprisingly, doesn’t want to play the central role. In a blog post published on Wednesday, Meta’s global head of safety Antigone Davis argues app stores should implement age controls and parental consent requirements for social media — not Meta.
The reason for that, according to Davis, is because the age verification methods proposed by lawmakers across the US vary from state to state, creating an inconsistent experience across social media platforms. To solve this, Meta says parents should instead approve the apps that their teens download directly from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
“With this solution, when a teen wants to download an app, app stores would be required to notify their parents, much like when parents are notified if their teen attempts to make a purchase,” Davis writes. “Parents can decide if they want to approve the download. They can also verify the age of their teen when setting up their phone, negating the need for everyone to verify their age multiple times across multiple apps.”
Meta says the company supports federal legislation requiring teens under 16 to get parental consent when downloading apps. That means the app store would be the one to ask for parents’ permission, while Meta would hold up its end of the bargain by offering “age-appropriate features and settings” that parents can help their children use.
So far, there isn’t any major legislation out there pinning online age verification specifically on app stores. Some states, including Louisiana, have already implemented age verification laws requiring users to present government IDs when accessing porn sites. These online age-gating methods will soon extend to social platforms in states like Utah, which signed a law that will require kids to get approval from parents when signing up for sites like Facebook. Federal lawmakers are also working on sweeping legislation that could have more far-reaching impacts on how we access the internet.