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Hawley proposes age threshold for creating social media accounts

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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is proposing a measure that would ban social media companies from allowing people younger than 16 to establish accounts.

The measure would require the platforms to verify a person's age when they create an account — but accounts established prior to the point six months after the enactment of the measure would be permitted to remain on the platform without verifying that the user meets the age requirement.

The measure says that if an account is provided to a child who does not meet the age threshold, that child's parent can lodge a civil action against the social media platform.

Hawley has also introduced a measure that would order the study of how social media use impacts people younger than 18.

"Children suffer every day from the effects of social media. At best, Big Tech companies are neglecting our children's health and monetizing their personal information. At worst, they are complicit in their exploitation and manipulation. It's time to give parents the weapons they need to strike back," Hawley said, according to a press release. "That starts with an age restriction for social media. And it's long past time for well-funded research on the scale of the problem. We must set the precedent that these companies can no longer take advantage of our children."

During an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Hannity," Hawley said that parents "would love to know that these companies cannot target their children, cannot let them open up accounts until they're 16 years of age. Let's protect our kids when they're at their most vulnerable," he said.

Hawley, who has served in the Senate since 2019, had previously served as the attorney general of Missouri.

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