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Social media company CEOs were raked over the coals at yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on online child safety. The fiery rhetoric and righteous indignation of senators from both parties obscured a fundamental reality: Social media companies as they exist today depend on a steady flow of children becoming new users and at the same time have little incentive to change their business models to protect kids on their platforms.

Social media researchers Joan Donovan of Boston University and McGill University’s Sara Parker explain why this is the case and what it will take for companies to change – or for Congress to force them to.

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Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

The CEOs of Discord, Snap, TikTok, X and Meta prepare to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 31, 2024. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Are social media apps ‘dangerous products’? 2 scholars explain how the companies rely on young users but fail to protect them

Joan Donovan, Boston University; Sara Parker, McGill University

As legislators rail against social media companies, the companies continue to put millions of young people at risk. Here’s how − and what can be done about it.


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