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BC's plan to sue social media: Expert opinions differ

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar16,2024

Draft of the C. -B. to continue social media: expert opinions differ

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In 2023, Utah adopted new laws to impose a curfew on social networks for those under 18.

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Voice synthesis, based on 'artificial intelligence, allows you to generate spoken text from written text.

As the provincial government announced legislation Thursday to prosecute social media that harms the mental and physical health of British Columbians, experts differ on the right strategy to adopt.

Whistleblower Frances Haugen was the face of the rebellion against the omnipotence of the digital giants. In 2021, the ex-Facebook employee leaked studies showing that the social network is aware of the harmfulness of its platform, and that it spreads hatred online.

We need laws like the one proposed by British Columbia, she said Friday, during a press briefing organized by the provincial government.

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Frances Haugen was a member of a civic integrity team within Mark Zuckerberg's group. (Archive photo)

According to her, a for-profit company will not itself ensure the protection of its users.

With an algorithm optimized for commercial purposes, we end up with a product that is not beneficial for 20% of children, according to the company itself, says Haugen.

Cybersecurity law specialist Emily Laidlaw also applauds the project and warns the population against certain uses of social networks that she considers problematic.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">There are decisions in the design. Children use filters that allow them to imagine what they look like thanks to plastic surgery. All these decisions have a widespread impact on society, explains the expert.

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According to Emily Laidlaw, the consequences for businesses could be severe. If children suffer from suicidal thoughts or eating disorders, the health costs can be enormous, she predicts.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Nellie Brière, consultant and speaker specializing in digital communications strategy and social media, is not convinced by the provincial government's approach.Open in full screen mode

Nellie Brière created a guide in 2023 in collaboration with Meta to help you choose the best way to get information based on your profile. (Archive photo)

The only scientific consensus that exists around digital technology and adolescents is that [the impact] depends on what that they do on the platforms. We cannot blame the problem of addiction on platforms. It's an easy scarecrow to target, but it completely misses the point, she says.

The specialist prefers to emphasize the individual responsibility of young people.

We are not in a physical drug, which physically induces dependencies, we are rather in a behavioral problem. And in my opinion, self-regulation must be treated in this regard. If we [put in place] so many laws that young people are not exposed to that, they will not be able to learn, shares Nellie Brière.

While relations between Meta and Canada are tense, Nellie Brière prefers to focus on discussion.

There is no promotion of tobacco on Meta, it respects our laws. From the moment we say that vaping is no, that energy products are no, Meta is not going to promote it on Canadian territory, she assures.

If there is no law in Canada in favor of the giants of the technology industry, there is one in the United States. This law protects them from prosecution for the content they post online.

With information from the radio show West Lighthouse

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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