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June 21, 2024

U.S. surgeon general calls for warning labels on social media

The U.S. surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms and their effects on young people’s lives, similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes (Source: “Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act,” Associated Press, June 17).
In a Monday opinion piece in the The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in the mental health crisis among young people.
“It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents. A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe,” Murthy said. “Evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior.”
Even with Congressional approval, warning labels would likely be challenged in the courts by tech companies.
“Putting a warning label on online speech isn’t just scientifically unsound, it’s at odds with the constitutional right to free speech,” said Adam Kovacevich, CEO of the tech industry policy group Chamber of Progress.

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