WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, Alphabet and Snap Inc. requesting their full support of his legislation, the Safe Social Media Act, which requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to conduct a study on the effects of social media use among American teenagers and children.
The Safe Social Media Act, introduced this week, follows Senator Scott’s March letter to these CEOs requesting information from the companies on the impacts of extended use of their platforms by American children and young adults, and his letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky requesting information on CDC studies and actions on these potential impacts.
Read the Senator’s letter HERE or below.
May 14, 2021
Mr. Mark Zuckerberg
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
1601 Willow Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Mr. Jack Dorsey
Chief Executive Officer
1355 Market Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
Mr. Evan Spiegel
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
2772 Donald Douglas Loop
North Santa Monica, CA 90405
Mr. Sundar Pichai
Chief Executive Officer
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 9404
Dear Chief Executive Officer:
In March, I wrote to you expressing my growing concern over the impact of social media on America’s children and young adults. As I noted in my March 22 letter, for a growing number of Americans, social media has become an integral part of daily life. In recent years, we’ve seen this dependence on social media platforms grow. While social media has offered a way for families forced to stay apart during the COVID-19 pandemic the ability to interact in new ways, I remain concerned about the massively increased usage of social media, especially by our younger generation. Reports show that children are particularly vulnerable to feelings of loneliness, depression and other mental health issues, and it is our responsibility to protect their wellbeing.
I am especially troubled by reports that Facebook is working on a version of its Instagram app for kids under 13. Even more worrisome is that Facebook did not deny these reports in its response to my March 22 letter. Unfortunately, none of the responses I received from Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat alleviated my concerns, and I’ve yet to receive a response from Google at all.
I cannot stress enough that the American people deserve to understand the risks associated with the repeated and long-term use of social media platforms, especially among children. That is why, this week, I filed the Safe Social Media Act to protect our children and better understand the true risks and impact of social media use by those under the age of 18. The Safe Social Media Act requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to conduct a study on the effects of social media use among children under the age of 18. In particular, the FTC and CDC would investigate the long-term health and mental health impacts of prolonged social media usage and report its findings to Congress along with policy recommendations.
Research from the Pew Research Center shows that nearly all U.S. teens ages 13-17 have access to a smartphone and almost half of teens are online “almost constantly.” It is time to do the necessary research to fully understand the impact social media is having on America’s children.
I welcome your support of this legislation and full cooperation in any studies into the mental health of our children and young adults, and look forward to working together to protect American families.
United States Senator