The Baroness Fighting to Protect Children Online
Beeban Kidron has successfully pushed stricter limits on how tech companies can target children online in Britain.
By Natasha Singer for The New York Times
Aug. 27, 2019
MENLO PARK, Calif. — Beeban Kidron, Silicon Valley’s latest antagonist, sat on the patio of a boutique hotel near Facebook’s headquarters recently, camouflaged in the local uniform of jeans and sneakers.
A member of the House of Lords, she had just flown in from London to attend an international meeting hosted by the social network. And now, in a hotel thronging with tech executives, she was recounting her plan to overhaul how their companies treat children.
The problem, as Baroness Kidron sees it, is that apps like YouTube and Instagram use data-fueled enticements — such as tallying “likes” and automatically personalizing videos that play one after another — to get youngsters hooked on their services. Children, she says, are no match for the turbocharged influence tactics, and often stay glued to the services even if doing so makes them unhappy.