In the latest congressional online safety hearing, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his stance that companies like his, responsible for social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram, should not bear the primary responsibility for managing parental consent systems for kids. Instead, he suggested that app store providers, namely Apple and Google, should take the lead in addressing this issue.
This isn’t the first time Meta has proposed such an approach. Last November, the company introduced a proposal urging Apple and Google to play a more active role in ensuring kids’ and teens’ safety by implementing parental approval requirements for users aged 13 to 15 downloading specific apps. Meta’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, emphasized that this approach would be the “best way” to support both parents and kids, calling for an “industry-wide” adoption of consistent standards for all apps.
Zuckerberg, in today’s hearing, highlighted Meta’s research findings indicating that parents desire more control over apps through smartphones and the app stores used by families. He argued against the notion of parents having to upload an ID to prove their parental status for each app their children use, positioning his proposal as a privacy-respecting alternative without the need for ID uploads.
The Meta CEO suggested that implementing such controls within the app stores themselves would be a practical solution. He noted that Apple already requires parental consent for in-app payments made by children, hinting at the simplicity of extending this requirement to cover app downloads and consent.
Zuckerberg’s proposal aligns with Meta’s objective to maintain a level playing field with its competitors, emphasizing consistent standards across the industry. Despite Meta’s dominant position with a combined 3.14 billion daily users on its social networking services, the company aims to ensure that regulations apply uniformly to all players in the field.
As discussions around online safety and children’s app usage continue, Zuckerberg’s call for Apple and Google to take a more active role in managing parental consent reflects ongoing efforts to strike a balance between user protection, privacy, and industry-wide standards.