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Jaime Horn, JLH Strategies
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After Landmark Hearing, Parents Look to Schumer to Move Kids Online Safety Act
ParentsSOS send letter signed by 250 families to Senate Leader Schumer Urging Passage of the Kids Online Safety Act
Washington, DC – Feb. 8, 2024 – In the wake of last week’s hearing with social media CEOs, parents who lost their children to social media harms are calling on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) to a vote on the Senate floor.
In a letter sent today and published as a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, more than 250 families urged Leader Schumer to move the bill that could have prevented their children’s deaths. Signatories to the letter include families whose children have died by suicide after being cyberbullied, sextorted or served pro-suicide content; families who lost children to dangerous viral challenges; and families whose children overdosed on fentanyl-laced drugs purchased over social media. Many of the signatories were in attendance at last week’s Senate hearing, holding pictures of their children.
It has been 25 years since Congress last passed legislation to protect children online, long before smartphones and social media even existed and long enough ago that most of the children represented in this letter lived and have died. The letter states:
We have paid the ultimate price for Congress’s failure to regulate social media. Our children have died from social media harms. Platforms have done everything and anything to maximize young people’s engagement – including designing products that send our kids down dangerous and deadly rabbit holes of pro-suicide and eating disorder content; enticing them to attempt dangerous challenges; facilitating sextortion schemes; and implementing design features that make children more vulnerable to predation, drug dealers, and cyberbullying. These are not isolated incidents but rather a harrowing reflection of a broader, systemic mental health crisis that demands immediate legislative action.
Maurine Molak, co-founder of ParentsSOS, an initiative of 20 families advocating for KOSA who all signed the letter, said “While we appreciated seeing the CEOs squirm in the hot seat, pointed questions from Congress and forced apologies won’t save children’s lives — but the Kids Online Safety Act will. Parents understand better than anyone that these platforms prioritize profits over safety and are done listening to Big Tech’s empty promises and evasions as children die from preventable causes. We need Congress to create guardrails on social media to ensure no other families suffer the tragedy of losing their children to corporate greed.”
Josh Golin, executive director of non-profit advocacy organization Fairplay, co-founder of ParentsSOS, said “The Kids Online Safety Act is the only legislation that would address the wide-range of serious and even fatal harms that young people experience on the Internet and force social media companies to change their toxic business model. With nearly 50 bipartisan cosponsors, we are confident it would sail through a floor vote in the Senate. We urge Senator Schumer to stand with these courageous families and advance KOSA.”
Additional organizations supporting the letter include: Accountable Tech; American Psychological Association; Center for Digital Democracy; Common Sense Media; Design it for Us; Eating Disorders Coalition; Issue One; Mental Health America; National Center for Sexual Exploitation; Parents Together Action; SAVE; The Tech Oversight Project; and Wired Human.
Parents for Safe Online Spaces (ParentsSOS), is an educational initiative created by families who have lost children as a result of online harms. The initiative’s goal is to raise awareness about the importance of the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), a piece of legislation addressing growing concern about the impact of online and social media platforms on children and teens.. The initiative can be found on X as @Parents4SOS, on Facebook as Parents for Safe Online Spaces, and online at https://www.parentssos.org/.
Fairplay is the leading nonprofit organization committed to helping children thrive in an increasingly commercialized, screen-obsessed culture, and the only organization dedicated to ending marketing to children. Fairplay advocates for policies that both protect children when they are online and help young people get the offline time they need to thrive. For more information visit https://fairplayforkids.org/.
David’s Legacy Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate cyber and other bullying, of children and teens, through education, legislation, and legal action. The foundation provides support for bullying victims, promotes kindness, and supports legislation that prohibits the cyberbullying of minors. For more information, visit www.davidslegacy.org.