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Danish government makes new pact to counter tech giants and protect children

3 file photo shows an iPhone in Washington with Twitter, Facebook, and other apps.
3 file photo shows an iPhone in Washington with Twitter, Facebook, and other apps. Copyright Evan Vucci/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Evan Vucci/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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The government in Copenhagen and several children's organisations are joining forces in a new alliance against social media platforms.

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A new pact was made with Denmark's youth organisations to protect children in the EU from the addictive design of social media and tech giants' business models, the Danish government announced on Monday.

The alliance, which will include Save the Children, Børns Vilkår, and the Danish Youth Council, hopes to counter features such as infinite scrolling, autoplay, and streaks, all designed to keep users on the platforms, and algorithms that expose children and young people to disturbing and borderline content.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the alliance was created to support and prioritise children's interests.

"We're up against some very, very big, powerful tech giants who, until now, have not chosen to live up to their responsibility in relation to children," Frederiksen explained in an interview on Monday.

Some children admit to being addicted, one teenager said, "I had a day where I spent 11 hours on my phone, and about nine of those hours were on TikTok."

The PM condemned the tech industry's lack of effort to introduce effective age controls and remove harmful content.

Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, the General Secretary for Save the Children, believes age verification is of the utmost importance.

"There is a need for actual age verification. There is a need for age-appropriate content requirements," Schmidt-Nielsen said.

"There is no point in 12-year-old children watching content that not even adults should watch. There is a need to be able to get hold of an adult."

To counter the problem, Christine Ravn Lund, chairwoman of the Danish Youth Council, said the solution was to "get a better balance between the physical and the digital in a normal child and youth life."

Danish ministries of business, culture and digitalisation are all expected to take part in the initiative.

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