Social Media

Shoshana Weissmann: Online Age Verification Rules Are Unconstitutional and Ineffective

"None of these laws prevent kids from viewing anything. They just prevent kids from posting," argues Shoshana Weissmann.


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In January, the Senate Judiciary Committee dragged the heads of Meta, TikTok, and X, formally known as Twitter, to Washington to charge them with exploiting children by allegedly addicting them to social media that sexually harms them, drives them to eating disorders, and even kills them. The Spanish Inquisition vibe of the proceedings reached a crescendo when Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) demanded that Mark Zuckerberg apologize to the families of children for the "harms" supposedly caused by Facebook and pay compensation out of his personal fortune.

But is social media really that bad for kids? And is the solution being pushed by Democrats and Republicans alike—universal age verification for all users of the internet—even technically feasible without shredding the First Amendment, destroying privacy, and creating major security issues? The answer is a resounding no, according to Shoshana Weissmann, director of digital media at R Street, a free market think tank, and author of "The Fundamental Problems with Social Media Age-Verification Legislation." Reason's Nick Gillespie interviewed Weissmann in Washington, D.C., in early February.

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