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Ernst Fights to Protect Iowa Kids Online

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is working across the aisle to protect children online and hold Big Tech accountable by supporting the Kids Online Safety Act.


“Our next generation is suffering from a mental health crisis, increased in part by the unchecked power of social media, and I’m working to give Iowa families more control over their kids’ online presence,” said Sen. Joni Ernst. “This bipartisan effort will require social media companies to better protect minors’ information and provide parents with the tools to safeguard their children.”


The Kids Online Safety Act provides young people and parents with the tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against online harms. The bill requires social media platforms to put the well-being of children first, ensuring an environment that is safe by default. 


The legislation requires independent audits by experts and academic researchers to ensure that social media platforms are taking meaningful steps to address risks to kids. 


The Kids Online Safety Act:

  • Requires social media platforms provide parents and minors with options to protect minors’ information, disable addictive product features, limit who can talk to kids online, and opt out of algorithmic recommendations. Platforms would be required to enable the strongest settings by default.
  • Gives parents new controls to help support their children and identify harmful behaviors and provides parents and children with a dedicated channel to report harms to kids to the platform. 
  • Creates a responsibility for social media platforms to prevent and mitigate harms to minors, such as promotion of suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and unlawful products for minors (e.g. gambling and alcohol).
  • Requires social media platforms to perform an annual independent audit assessing the risks to minors, their compliance with this legislation, and whether the platform is taking meaningful steps to prevent those harms. 
  • Provides academic and public interest organizations with access to critical datasets from social media platforms to foster research regarding harms to the safety and well-being of minors.