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How Will Prop 24 Affect Social Media Companies?

Proposition 24 or the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 is a ballot measure that was approved after being voted on during the 2020 general election.

Proposition 24 or the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 is a ballot measure that was approved after being voted on during the 2020 general election. Prop 24 as it’s known in short is a push towards consumer privacy online and builds upon the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA was the state’s foundation for regulation regarding consumer privacy online and has been described as a model that other states can implement or build off of in their creation of data privacy laws. 

Prop 24 provides several protections for consumers. It offers consumers protection from businesses sharing their personal data with other parties. Additionally, consumers can get inaccurate personal data corrected and it puts tighter restrictions on businesses and the way use a consumer’s personal information. Aspects such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, private communication, and health information fall under the umbrella of this sensitive personal information. 

Under this proposition, the California Privacy Protection Agency is the designated agency that will be tasked with enforcing the state’s privacy laws. This agency will be responsible for ensuring that businesses do not take an extended period of time correcting violations, that businesses do not hang on to a consumer’s personal information for longer than allowed by law, and that violations that occur against children under the age of 16 will be met with maximum fines that are triple the amount of previous fines. 

The legislation has drawn mixed criticism from consumers, advocacy groups, and lawmakers. Organizations including the NAACP, Consumer Reports, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, Consumer Watchdog, and the LA Times all support the legislation while the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen, the Consumer Federation of California, and the San Francisco Chronicle oppose it. 

Are Social Media Companies Affected by Prop 24? 

One of the biggest questions asked by many is how will this bill impact social media companies, seeing as they are one of the biggest players that depend on the data collection of its users. As highlighted by the popular documentary, The Social Dilemma, tech giants including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon have drastically changed the way they and other businesses interact with consumers. Before the crackdown on internet privacy laws, it was a game of wild wild west where these tech Industries essentially played by their own rules. While these tech giants will continue to operate in a manner that’s most beneficial to them, Prop 24 will have an influence on how these businesses operate.

1. Social Media Companies Can No Longer Collect Information Without Permission 

One of the biggest plays that social media companies execute when interacting with users is by using information that’s collected from that user’s online experience. Through third party apps and by being granted access to the data collected on those apps, tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon can create a targeted experience for users based on that data collection. Under prop 24, social media companies will have a more difficult time accessing that data. Essentially, social media companies will be affected by prop 24 because they will be limited to the data collection of what a user is doing on their platform alone. 

2. Limitation of Sensitive Personal Information 

One of the biggest driving forces for any social media company is understanding the sensitive personal information of its users. Sensitive personal information is described as detailed information about a consumer. This includes a consumer’s gender, age, sexual orientation, geographic location, details regarding their health and wellness, race, religion, and ethnicity.

By knowing these details, social media companies can tailor a consumer’s experience on their platform. This level of micro targeting an individual is a practice that will be harder, if not illegal to pull off. Critics have argued that this micro targeting is what pulls consumers into the so-called “rabbit hole” as described by the popular film, The Social Dilemma. This rabbit hole trap is then used by these tech giants to further exploit its users whether they consider it exploitation or not. 

3. Advertisements Experiences Will Change For Consumers

One of the biggest advantages social media companies have over other businesses and consumers are their ability to specifically target the consumer for advertising purposes. By limiting the amount of data these social media companies have access to, there will be a direct limitation in the way they can advertise to users. For example, data associated with a Google search for toasters cannot be transferred to Facebook for a tailored advertisement experience for its users. Additionally, a consumer’s recent movements or other interactions online cannot be used as a means to craft micro-targeted advertisements. 

4. Increased Transparency With Users

This new legislation requires that businesses must be transparent in how they will use your data and that they cannot deviate from this intended use. This guideline will require that social media companies be more transparent in their data collection processes. Additionally, because data can only be stored for a limited period of time, consumers will have the advantage of knowing that a detailed profile of who they are and what their actions online entail is not stored in a digital dossier. Lastly, social media companies will need to be transparent with other companies as far as telling them that a consumer has requested their data be deleted. 

5. Potential Change in User Policies For Minors

Social media companies like Snapchat, Tik Tok, and Instagram that are popular with children under the age of 16 may consider changing their user guidelines. Any violations regarding a minor’s personal data and how it’s used will result in heavier fines. This tighter restriction on the outcome of how minors interact with a social media platform may make that business think twice about how their company interacts with its younger users. 

6. Show Media Companies Will Need to Adopt

As part of prop 24, the act cannot be changed or amended for the benefit of relaxing regulations on social media companies and any other tech companies that utilize a consumer’s data. Because of this, social media companies should expect that the rigor of data privacy will only increase. This may encourage social media companies to invest thoughtfully in the long run. 

Final Thoughts

Legislation has always been slow to keep up with the digital playing field. Proposition 24 offers a substantial first step in the right direction as far as protecting an individual’s data online goes. While the proposition helps to address loopholes that have existed and been shown to be advantageous for businesses, especially social media companies, the reality is that change is inevitably coming and laws such as prop 24 will have an impact on how social media companies interact with their users. 


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