• 144 days Could Crypto Overtake Traditional Investment?
  • 149 days Americans Still Quitting Jobs At Record Pace
  • 151 days FinTech Startups Tapping VC Money for ‘Immigrant Banking’
  • 154 days Is The Dollar Too Strong?
  • 154 days Big Tech Disappoints Investors on Earnings Calls
  • 155 days Fear And Celebration On Twitter as Musk Takes The Reins
  • 157 days China Is Quietly Trying To Distance Itself From Russia
  • 157 days Tech and Internet Giants’ Earnings In Focus After Netflix’s Stinker
  • 161 days Crypto Investors Won Big In 2021
  • 161 days The ‘Metaverse’ Economy Could be Worth $13 Trillion By 2030
  • 162 days Food Prices Are Skyrocketing As Putin’s War Persists
  • 164 days Pentagon Resignations Illustrate Our ‘Commercial’ Defense Dilemma
  • 165 days US Banks Shrug off Nearly $15 Billion In Russian Write-Offs
  • 168 days Cannabis Stocks in Holding Pattern Despite Positive Momentum
  • 169 days Is Musk A Bastion Of Free Speech Or Will His Absolutist Stance Backfire?
  • 169 days Two ETFs That Could Hedge Against Extreme Market Volatility
  • 171 days Are NFTs About To Take Over Gaming?
  • 172 days Europe’s Economy Is On The Brink As Putin’s War Escalates
  • 175 days What’s Causing Inflation In The United States?
  • 176 days Intel Joins Russian Exodus as Chip Shortage Digs In
Is The Internet Killing The Planet?

Is The Internet Killing The Planet?

As public perception continues to…

Michael Scott

Michael Scott

Writer, Safehaven.com

Michael Scott majored in International Business at San Francisco State University and University of Economics, Prague. He is now working as a news editor for…

Contact Author

  1. Home
  2. Tech
  3. Internet

Anti-Tech Senator Pushes To Crack Down On Social Media Addiction

Social Media

Social media apps are addictive, and one senator is micro-manage the addiction by curbing certain features and making it obligatory for apps to remind you, every 30 minutes, exactly how much of your life you’ve been wasting. Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican and the author of the bill, is seeking to ban autoplay videos and infinite scrolling on social media apps. 

The purpose of Hawley’s SMART Act (Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act), unveiled on Tuesday, is to hit out at companies that have “embraced a business model of addiction”. 

“Too much of the ‘innovation’ in this space is designed not to create better products, but to capture more attention by using psychological tricks that make it difficult to look away,” Hawley said. 

If the bill is passed, it would give social media companies three months to get on board. After that, they would be banned from offering automatic “features” that load and display content that the user hasn’t requested. In other words, there won’t be anymore automatic dumping to feed your addiction. You’d have to go in and request that dumping specifically. 

Overall, the bill seeks “to prohibit social media companies from using practices that exploit human psychology or brain physiology to substantially impede freedom of choice, to require social media companies to take measures to mitigate the risks of internet addiction and psychological exploitation, and for other purposes.”

It’s not Hawley’s first anti-tech rodeo, either. Other bills he’s introduced focus on data tracking, children’s online privacy, and data monetization. He’s been tough on tech executives in hearings and is a regular pressure point for federal regulators on tech issues. 

Related: Billion-Dollar Esports Niche Could Be In The 2024 Olympics

So how addicted are we to social media, exactly?

The jury seems to be out on that still, but for now--at least--it has not been recognized by any major international health institution as a “disorder”, per se, Vox reports

According to Famemass, globally, people spend an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes a day just on social networks and messaging. 

U.S. adults spend an average of 11 hours and 27 minutes a day consuming digital media. 

Gen-Z and millennials aged 18-34 spend an average of 3 hours and 31 minutes on their phones, while adults aged 35-49 beat them, spending an average of 3 hours and 34 minutes per day on the same device. But adults aged 35-49 also watch a lot more TV on top of that; so, digital consumption is arguably more of an adult addiction than it is a youth problem. 

Source: Famemass

And it’s only getting worse: 

Source: Famemass

Is Hawley’s SMART Act the answer?

Plenty are commending it, but some feel it stands little chance of being effective. 

Speaking to Recode, Andrew Przybylski, a University of Oxford psychologist and public skeptic of social media addiction, called Hawley’s bill “silly and practically unworkable”. 

We need more effective regulation, he says.

“It’s important that social media companies begin participating in large-scale transparent studies with independent scientists. Until Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have to share their data, we’re not going to get anywhere.”

The SMART Act has a long way to go before becoming law, if it ever does. After all, the senator is fighting a giant industry and addiction rules the day. A successful ‘intervention’ may not come from a government ban on the tech industries ‘hook’ techniques. 

Hawley’s track record, though, suggests he doesn’t plan on letting up. In the past, he’s questioned whether these social media platforms should even exist, and has called social media a “parasite on production investment, on meaningful relationships, on a healthy society”. 

For now, mindless scrolling is set to rule the day. 

By Michael Scott for Safehaven.com

More Top Reads From Safehaven.com:

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment