By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota lawmaker is pushing for privacy rights for children on social media.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) hosted a virtual roundtable discussion Thursday morning focusing on Facebook and Instagram’s impact on young users. The senator spoke with parents to hear their concerns on privacy and content, as well as how tech companies profit from their children’s data.

Facebook has been under fire after a former employee testified last week about how the company promotes content to children. Frances Haugen said the company was aware, for example, that its algorithms can lead minors to eating disorder content.

Instagram currently says users have to be at least 13 years old to use the app, but there’s no age verification process.

During Thursday’s roundtable, Klobuchar said there needs to be a multi-layered approach to protect kids on social media, including a federal privacy law to address the social media giant’s algorithms that track and target young users.

Parents told the senator that avoiding the apps altogether is near impossible, as schools and sports programs use them to distribute information. One mother reported that her daughter sometimes seemed addicted to Instagram and Facebook.

“She does not know how to disassociate from it, so she feels really locked into these notifications,” Natalie Kennedy Schuck said. “There was a time I was trying to talk to her, I kept telling her to put her phone down, and she kept bringing it back up every time it would ding or it would buzz. She couldn’t stop herself, and I was like, ‘What is happening?'”

Klobuchar said she believes the Children’s Online Privacy Act needs to be updated to expand the age group that it protects. She also believes there needs to more competition in the social media space so that Facebook doesn’t have a monopoly on so much information.

Kate Raddatz