New podcast series highlights harms, need for legislation

Introducing "Accountable," a series from the No App for Life Podcast

With the rise of social media, the internet landscape has changed tremendously over the past three decades. Social media is especially popular amongst children and teens who use these platforms to build community, find resources, and to be entertained. Well aware of the presence of young people on their platforms, Big Tech tracks their online behavior and uses it to serve them with content and advertising meant to keep kids engaged on these platforms- even if that content is harmful. This sinister targeted marketing strategy has exposed kids to the most extreme and harmful forms of content, left them vulnerable to child predators, and exacerbated the incidence of cyberbullying to name just a few examples.

Hosted by Action Network Advisory Board member Joni Siani, The No App For Life Podcast delves into the impacts of Big Tech on young people and how to prioritize your well-being in a world heavily influenced by technology. Last year, the podcast highlighted the unthinkable stories of three moms whose children died due to social media use in “The Harms.” The brand new season begins with a three-episode series called “Accountable,” in which Joni has conversations with several guests about online harms to kids and what can be done to stop them.

All three “Accountable” episodes highlight the need for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). KOSA is the first legislative bill in nearly 30 years that holds Big Tech accountable for the preventable online harms that children and teens are facing on their platforms and dishes out regulations on what they cannot do with kids’ personal data.

It is long overdue for Big Tech to be held accountable and KOSA aims to do just that. Thank you to Joni Siani and guests for bringing the need for legislation to light through the “Accountable” series.

Episode 1

Host Joni Siani interviews Laura Marquez-Garrett, a social media justice attorney who works for the Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC) and focuses on holding social media companies accountable when they fail to protect their users from preventable harms. In this episode, Laura explains how Big Tech has been unaccountable for such a long time for the kids using their platforms, and why even the most hands-on and tech-conscious parents are unaware of the true extent of the online harms that their kids are facing. Laura also expresses why they are now able to confidently support KOSA after not supporting the bill last year and highlights the key ways it would force Big Tech to care for the kids on their platforms.

Episode 2

Continuing their discussion on the ins and outs of KOSA, Laura gives a comprehensive breakdown of how the bill is written to address the most imminent harms that kids face online today such as dark patterns, child predation, and misinformation. Joni and Laura’s conversation also covers how this bill will finally hold tech corporations to an actual standard of responsibility and transparency in order to maximize the safety for the young users on their platforms. 

Episode 3

Joni sits down with guests Joann Bogard and Kristin Bride who unfortunately know all too well just how dangerous social media platforms can be to kids. Joann lost her son Mason when he was 15 years old after he attempted “the choking challenge,”a popular social media trend where kids and teens try to make themselves pass out. Kristin lost her son Carson when he was 16 years old to suicide due to cyberbullying that occurred on Snapchat via a third party anonymous messaging app called YOLO. Joann and Kristin discuss how they themselves and other parents are more than ready to see changes that will create a safer future online for children and teens.