Latest in Gear

Image credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Senator wants to ban 'addictive' social network features in new bill

Endless scrolling and autoplaying videos would be things of the past.
922 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Never mind relying on your phone's wellbeing tools to curb your social network addictions -- if one congressman has his way, the law itself would step in. Senator Josh Hawley has introduced a bill, the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act (yes, that's SMART Act), that would ban features deemed to be exploitative. It would primarily forbid infinite scrolling, autoplaying media and achievements that don't "substantially" reward users with more content. There would have to be "natural stopping points" that encourage users to take a break, for hat matter.

There would be exceptions for the feature bans, such as music-focused social services and music playlists.

The bill would also require equal treatment for consent choices (no more burying the "no thank you" option) as well as in-app tools to both track time spent and impose caps. The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services would gain the power to ban similar behavior. Those rules would expire after three years if they aren't ratified by Congress.

Whether or not the bill advances is far from certain. While there have been bipartisan efforts to ensure honesty in social networking, that doesn't guarantee Hawley will have much success in bringing the SMART Act to a vote or passing it in both sides of Congress. The senator's bills have tackled a number of online issues, such as paid loot boxes, but have rarely advanced beyond attracting co-sponsors.

It's safe to say there could be resistance from internet giants. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks thrive on seemingly never-ending feeds and a constant deluge of videos. If users spend less time on those services, that could directly impact their ad revenue. Not that they'll likely earn much sympathy from people like Hawley -- he sees the obsession with constant engagement as destructive, especially for children.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
922 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

IKEA's AR furniture app now lets you preview an entire room

IKEA's AR furniture app now lets you preview an entire room

View
Google may have taken first step towards quantum computing 'supremacy'

Google may have taken first step towards quantum computing 'supremacy'

View
Nintendo seriously needs to fix multi-Switch game sharing

Nintendo seriously needs to fix multi-Switch game sharing

View
Readers relive their experiences with the original NES

Readers relive their experiences with the original NES

View
On Nintendo's 130th birthday, here are five books about its history

On Nintendo's 130th birthday, here are five books about its history

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr