New law aims to protect finances, privacy of child social media stars

Some young children earn millions of dollars through social media influencing and promotion, but there's little legislation or protection for most. A new law in France aims to try to safeguard children under the age of 16, protecting their finances and providing some privacy.

The legislation, which was passed unanimously by the French parliament on Oct. 6, creates a "legal framework" that gives social media stars the same protections as French child models and actors.

A press release about the law says videos of child influencers online raise "important questions about the interests of the children they portray" and raises questions about the "impact celebrity can have on the psychological development of children, the risks of cyber-harassment, even child pornography, and the fact that these activities are not regulated by labor law."

Bruno Studer, the politician behind the bill, told the French newspaper Le Monde that the law would make France a pioneer in the rights of child social media stars.

"Children's rights must be preserved and protected, including on the internet, which must not be a lawless area," Studer told La Tribune, another publication.

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The multi-part legislation "guarantees that the conditions of employment" for social media influencers under the age of 16 are "compatible with his schooling and the safeguard of his health." The majority of a child's income garnered from social media influencing must be paid to a specific French public sector financial institution, which will hold and manage that money until the child comes of age. The law also places limits on how many hours a child can work as an influencer.

Another part of the law also gives children some protection from the platforms on which they post. One piece of the legislation "makes platforms participate more actively in the detection of problematic audiovisual content" and "creates an obligation of cooperation with public authorities." Platforms face a fine of 75,000 euros, or around $88,700, for not complying with these obligations.

The legislation also includes a "right to erasure," which means that minors can ask platforms to take down images of themselves and requires platforms to comply.

Children can earn millions of dollars online. According to Forbes, an American child named Ryan Kaji made more than $20 million in 2018 by reviewing toys on YouTube.

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