You know trouble is right around the corner any time someone in government declares something a “crisis” or an “epidemic,” usually because the government then feels compelled to intervene and only makes things worse. Just had surgery but were only given eight painkillers for a week’s recovery? That’s because there’s an opioid epidemic out there, and now it’s your problem.
What we didn’t even know was a crisis was apps that have features that “addict” users, but Republican Sen. Josh Hawley on Tuesday unveiled legislation he hopes will ban things like autoscrolling — for people who are addicted to scrolling, we suppose. He calls it the SMART Act, with SMART standing for Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology.
“The bill—'the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act’—aims to combat the features on social media websites and apps that intentionally try to keep users on the sites in order to sell more advertisements.” https://t.co/YN9DwDe7Ze
— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) July 30, 2019
He certainly has our attention with a ban on videos that automatically play without any user prompt. But as Bloomberg Government reports, the law would do so much more:
“Big tech has embraced a business model of addiction,” Hawley said in a statement. “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. This legislation will put an end to that and encourage true innovation by tech companies.”
The bill would also prohibit certain achievement features on websites and apps that reward continued usage of the platform, except features that substantially increase access to new features. The bill targets SnapChat’s achievement features like “Snapstreaks,” which encourage and rewards users to interact with each other for consecutive days.
Social media companies would be required to allow users to set time limits for usage, and to automatically set a limit of 30 minutes of daily usage per device unless a user opts out. Music playlists and music streaming websites, such as Spotify, would be exempt from the rules.
The bill would “automatically set a limit of 30 minutes of daily usage per device,” for real? We already can’t believe Apple went ahead and put in a “Screen Time” monitor that nags you each week about how many hours you spent on your iPad. Do you not want us to use your product?
Effing nanny-state Republicans. WTH needs this? What's next? Caps on the amount of alcohol one can buy? Caps on the amount of salt we can consume?
Keep your grubby paws off our freedoms @SenateGOP
— Nieds Dead Horse (@NDH_j_m_f) July 30, 2019
This is absolutely the LAST thing I ever want government in charge of. It is disgraceful to even propose it.
— Aaron Hall (@GoodThings2Life) July 30, 2019
Agreed – although to be fair, I do support capital punishment for those site owners who enable autoplay.
— Darrell Prichard ???? (@DarrellPrichard) July 30, 2019
This legislation is awful and Hawley should be ashamed! Can we get someone principled and not ridiculous to primary this guy? ?
— MagnoliaPeach ?? (@magnoliapeach) July 30, 2019
Not having read the article or bill – this seems like a solution looking for a problem.
— Brian Kime (@BrianPKime) July 30, 2019
More laws, less freedom.
This legislation is nanny state trash.
— Ron Frey (@AttorneyFrey) July 30, 2019
This is a parody account, right?
— Steve Brecher (@SteveBrecher) July 30, 2019
Why limit it to social media? When CNN tells part of a story, then goes to commercial before continuing another part of the story, followed by more commercials, they are doing the exact same thing.
— Chihoowa' oshi' (@DroppinTheMitts) July 30, 2019
This bill is garbage and authoritarian. It’s a severe encroachment on freedom.
— Roger Gibson (@pizza_santa) July 30, 2019
Senator Nanny State Hawley.
— Acting Secretary at…. (@YOUR_ADSUCKS) July 30, 2019
It’s a tricky situation because sometimes he really does seem to be trying to help in a constructive manner:
NEW → Senator Hawley sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook following reports that the App Store does not stop developers from hiding software in their apps designed to track users and harvest massive amounts of data unrelated to app functionality. #WWDC19 https://t.co/6SV4u7Byxr
— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) June 4, 2019
But this SMART Act? No thanks.
Here are the 3 women behind Twitter's (AWFUL) redesign https://t.co/mHtQiRLnDg
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) July 23, 2019