Fairplay For Kids, a children’s digital rights advocacy group, released a report on 12 July 2022 finding that children in the US, Australia, South America and Africa have less protection on TikTok, WhatsApp and Instagram in comparison to European children. The report was published last week with research assistance from civil society organisations from around the world, including South Africa’s Media Monitoring Africa, and documents the privacy and safety offerings on various digital platforms.
It unpacks the practices and policies relating to the minimum age requirements, privacy policies and default settings across 14 different countries, and finds that children around the world have inequitable access to privacy protections on these platforms. Ultimately, the report finds that the different user experience for children online based on their geographical location is a form of discrimination which violates the rights of children.
The report concludes with recommendations for social media platforms, civil society organisations, and policy makers:
- Social media platforms: Platforms should adopt “Child Rights by Design” and “Safety By Design” approaches across their global service. Part of this approach should include undertaking a risk assessment of platform design, where the risk each function, feature or element poses to young users is reviewed and then mitigated.
- Civil society: Civil society can play a leading role in ensuring that social media platforms are held to account for any discrimination and harms their platforms cause. Each civil society organisation has a role to play in this, from working with and social media platforms, to actively campaigning against platform practices, to advocating for regulatory changes from policymakers.
- Policymakers: Regulations need to be implemented that demand the highest levels of safety and privacy for young users, which requires the prioritisation of children’s best interests.
The report can be accessed here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].