Republican Senator Josh Hawley is proposing a new legislation targeting the practices used by social media companies to maintain user engagement on their platforms. The bill, known as the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act, will prevent tech companies from implementing addictive features that work on the user's psychology in order to keep them engaged.
According to Hawley, These, big tech companies put too much focus on these "psychological tricks" to keep users' attention focused on their products rather than improving them. Some of the features the SMART Act will target include auto-play on videos and infinite scrolling used on web apps such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Another feature the bill aims to remove is the "rewards" given to users, such as digital badges and medals, based their continued use of the platform.
Hawley's proposal will also require social media companies to add functionalty in their interface that allows users' to set time limits in order to monitor their time online. Lastly, the SMART Act will require the FTC to release a report every three years regarding internet addiction and the role social media companies play on the matter.
Hawley is one of the youngest senators in congress and has been pushing legislation aimed at technology and the internet. He has expressed his concerns in the past on the pitfalls of social media and the negative effects it has on societies. He is also pushing to remove the protections granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that protect online service providers from liability regarding the content posted on their platforms.