Children's Commissioner Thinks Social Media Companies Can See Inside Black Holes

By Shabana Arif on at

What kind of mixed-up word are we living in when we can create driverless cars, make AI that can whoop humans' butts in video games, and peer into the abyss of a black hole, but can't roll out a reliable age verification tool to use on websites, says the Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield. As far as I was aware, we only just got our first actual glimpse at a black hole last month which looked like the eye of Sauron was suffering from a bit of hay fever. But we can see inside them now apparently. What a world we live in.

“Can it really be the case that they can create driverless cars, see inside black holes and programme computers to beat the best human players of complex games...but not find ways of making digital platforms fit for purpose for children?," wrote Longfield in an article for the Telegraph over the weekend. "Of course not. And for the record, I’ve been reassured that it is all very possible." Perhaps these reassuring sources are the same ones holding onto that black hole infiltrating technology.

British MPs called for more regulation on the part of social media sites earlier this year and there are plans to roll out such regulation later this year.

"This code could be the first step in redressing the balance," said Longfield. "Of course, it would be surprising if there was not a flurry of pushback from the tech companies, as so often happens when industry is asked to change its ways. We will be told it would take a very long time, that it will negate the experience of the activity or that it simply can’t be done."

She added that when it comes to websites ensuring their users can surf seamlessly, or "children having to wait a small amount of time to get on to a site, and continuing to allow them on sites they shouldn’t be on," it's an "obvious" decision as to what the answer should be. And that answer in no way includes parental monitoring of their kids' online activity apparently, instead laying the blame at the feet of social media platforms, which don't fall under the umbrella of publishers or curators of content - not yet anyway. [Telegraph]