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Online Manipulation: Should congress raise minimum age for social media?

October 7, 2021 at 8:28 p.m.

Most Facebook users know there is a lot of anger and vitriol on the site. Arguments spring up over everything from politics to whether pineapple belongs on pizza. And sometimes those online fights get pretty nasty.

Now come allegations from whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, who says the company's algorithms -- the technology that decides what appears on your Facebook page -- promote some of the most divisive and controversial content, knowing it keeps users engaged and leads them to spend more time on the site. That means they make more profit from eyes seeing advertising.

In other words, Facebook makes money by allegedly boosting the angry, nasty stuff and downplaying the rest.

That has led some to call for more federal oversight and regulation of Facebook and other such sites.

It's a slippery slope when the government starts to impede free speech among adults. But Facebook and other social media sites are used by teen as young as 13. And many experts say toxic content has more of an impact on them, sometimes with terrible consequences.

One solution, critics say, is to raise the minimum age to use Facebook, Instagram and other platforms from 13 to at least 16, maybe even 18.

It's doubtful the social media companies would do that on their own. So Congress would have to take action -- which would certainly face a court challenge and uncertain outcome.

Others say the solution is for parents to take greater control of their children's social media use -- and their own as well.

We want to know what you think. Should Congress raise the minimum age for social media use, even if it may be struck down in court? If you are a parent, do these allegations make it more likely that you will take action restrict your children's use of social media?

Send your response (50 words maximum) to [email protected] by Wednesday, October 13. You can also mail your response to the Texarkana Gazette Friday Poll, at P.O. Box 621, Texarkana, TX 75504 or drop it off at our office, 101 E. Broad St, Texarkana, Ark. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number. We will print as many responses as we can in next Friday's paper.

Last Week: Halloween, Yea or Nay?

Last week's question was about the sometimes controversial holiday Halloween. Do you and your family enjoy Halloween? If so, how will you celebrate the holiday this year?

YES to Halloween! I grew deep in the country. We went to my grandparents' homes ... homemade treats, but no candy. We have loved our 7 years at my in-laws' big neighborhood! The boys are old enough to pass out candy now. It's a great time with family, homemade treats, and CANDY! -- J.M., Texarkana, Arkansas

From facebook.com/texarkanagazette

- Yes of course.

- Yes.

- Yes, every year regardless.

- My family loves Halloween! For many years we waited til we came home from work and school to decorate the front yard to surprise trick or treaters with our front yard's Halloween decorations. We never really knew what we were going to do til we started putting it together, it was always awesome and fun.

- If this is happening then Halloween is definitely happening.

- Y'all need to stop changing stuff. Gets some candy and sit on the porch and Let the kids enjoy trick or treating.

- Ummmm it's a big fat YAY for us.

- Yessss.

- Absolutely.

Print Headline: Online Manipulation: Should congress raise minimum age for social media?

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