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Regulators want to ban under-18s from using “Like” buttons on Facebook and Instagram

Regulators want to ban under-18s from using “Like” buttons on Facebook and Instagram
[Photo: Christin Hume/Unsplash]

Regulators in the U.K. have proposed sweeping new rules for social media platforms in order to keep people under the age of 18 safer online and their data more private, reports the BBC. Among the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) proposals is for Facebook and Instagram to disable the “like” buttons on posts for anyone younger than 18. When a user presses a “like” button that information is used by advertisers to compile information about the user–many times without the young person’s knowledge.

Other proposals by the ICO to keep young people and their data safer online include:

  • Switch location tracking off by default for users under the age of 18.
  • Make it obvious to the user when location tracking has been enabled.
  • Set privacy settings in all social media apps to the highest level by default.
  • Notify under-18 users if parental controls or activity tracking features are being used on their accounts.
  • Allow under-18s to choose to only use a certain part of a social media platform’s service. For example, a young user would be able to elect to use the Facebook site, but would be able to disable Facebook’s Messenger feature.

The ICO also wants social media companies to stop using deceptive nudging practices to trick under-18s into sharing more data about themselves. The ICO recommends that social media companies should not:

  • Use deceptive language that presents the option to share more user data in a much more positive light than the alternative of choosing to not share user data.
  • Provide options for sharing data where the Yes button is much larger than the No button.
  • Make it more cumbersome to select better privacy options by requiring the user to perform more clicks or taps to turn it on than activating lower privacy options require.

Right now the ICO’s new regulations are just proposals, but if they find a wide range of support from lawmakers, it’s likely the code could be put into practice in the new future.

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