Two U.S. senators wrote a letter citing accusations that Instagram was to blame for many youngsters having suicidal thoughts and Meta’s inability to block harmful ads targeted at young individuals.
- In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, two U.S. senators begged him to put an end to plans to let teenagers use Meta’s metaverse platform, citing serious risks.
- To safeguard consumers from dangerous apps, Meta is thinking of imposing security standards on software that is not sold through its store.
Senators’ Letter to Zuck
Two US senators have written to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg requesting that the firm’s Horizon Worlds metaverse platform not be made accessible to young adults. Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal stated in a letter dated March 1 that if Meta’s claimed plan to “draw young people into a digital realm replete with potential dangers” was motivated by financial gain, it should not be put into action. The two legislators cited privacy issues, eye strain, and online bullying as “severe risks” associated with allowing youths between the ages of 13 and 17 access the internet.
Markey and Blumenthal addressed Zuckerberg, saying, “Your repeated failures to protect underage users make Meta’s plan to target young individuals with services in the metaverse extremely troubling. With a history of failing to rescue kids and teenagers, Meta has lost the trust of parents, clinicians, lawmakers, and the public.
In addition to failing to ban advertising for “tobacco, alcohol, and eating disorder content” directed at young adults, the two senators stated reports that Instagram was the cause of numerous youngsters having suicidal thoughts:
“Your plans to immediately drag these young people into an under-researched, potentially dangerous virtual world with repercussions for their physical and mental health is unacceptable. Our constituents have expressed growing concern about the effects of social media and online platforms on teens’ well-being.”
Markey, a Massachusetts senator who is a junior in the Senate, has called on mining companies to provide information about data collecting and has endorsed legislation aimed at reducing the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining. In the previous Congress, Blumenthal supported legislation that would have allowed third-party apps and app stores on devices made by significant tech companies.
Three American legislators have proposed legislation that would order the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publish a study on the environmental effects and energy consumption of cryptocurrency mining.
In a December 8 statement, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and California Representative Jared Huffman claimed that Bitcoin miners were responsible for about 1.4% of the nation’s electricity use and were “sounding the alarm” about the energy use associated with cryptocurrency mining in the country. The senators introduced the Crypto-Asset Environmental Transparency Act alongside Senator Jeff Merkley, which would direct the EPA to report on mining operations using more than five megawatts.
The metaverse has advantages for the environment; according to some, it will reduce the amount of travel done for pleasure and business, reducing pollution. It does, however, have drawbacks. Data Quest claims that experts are concerned that the metaverse could cause a rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Data centers and virtual reality technology use AI and cloud services, which consume a lot of energy.
According to a recent study, just one AI model’s training may produce 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, more than five times the amount of greenhouse gases a car generates throughout its lifespan. The need for cloud gaming for VR may result in an increase in carbon emissions by 2030.
Many US lawmakers have kept cryptocurrency consumption as a goal, despite the Ethereum blockchain transitioning in 2022 from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, which uses less energy. In October, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren joined six other members of Congress in requesting information on the energy needs and potential environmental implications of cryptocurrency mining from the director of the Texas Electric Reliability Council.
To safeguard customers from dangerous apps, the tech giant is considering imposing security criteria for software not found in its store, like Apple verification. Only the EU would be affected by the modifications to Apple’s closed environment; other nations would need to enact legislation with comparable provisions, such as the Open App Markets Act that Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal have suggested for the US Congress.