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UK Seeks To Protect Children On Social Media By Banning Likes

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The United Kingdom is taking steps to protect children’s privacy on social media by banning ‘nudge tactics’ which encourage users to spend more time online.

The Information Commissioner’s Office provided the document “Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services” which explains that the U.K. wants to protect children within the internet rather than to ban children from using the internet. They plan to do this by prohibiting children from liking posts on Facebook or Instgram, and by disabling techniques that “nudge” users to stay online longer like Snapchat “streaks.”

“In an age when children learn how to use a tablet before they can ride a bike, making sure they have the freedom to play, learn and explore in the digital world is of paramount importance,” says UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham CBE, in a statement released by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Denham’s office is now looking for feedback as they continue a consultation running until May 31, according to BBC News.

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The new code lays out 16 standards that social media companies and online services must meet, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

“It’s not restricted to services specifically directed at children,” Denham wrote of the new restrictions, “The code says that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when designing and developing online services. It says that privacy must be built in and not bolted on.”

“Nudge techniques should not be used to encourage children to provide unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy settings or keep on using the service. It also addresses issues of parental control and profiling.”

“Social networks have continually failed to prioritise child safety in their design, which has resulted in tragic consequences,” commmented National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Andy Burrows to BBC News. NSPCC reportedly welcomes the changes.

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However, other organizations have criticized the move.

“The ICO is an unelected quango introducing draconian limitations on the internet with the threat of massive fines,” said the Adam Smith Institute head of research Matthew Lesh, according to BBC News. “It is ridiculous to infantilise people and treat everyone as children.”

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