Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has introduced a new bill that takes aim at the tech industry’s “addictive” design decisions for keeping users glued to websites and other platforms. If the legislation manages to pass, annoyances such as autoplaying videos, endless scrolling, and “Snapstreaks” (a Snapchat feature that entices users to send photos every 24 hours) would be deemed illegal.
This is all part of the senator’s Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act. Hawley wants to send a message to tech companies, which he accuses of being in the business of addiction rather than good products.
Deceptive design played an enormous part in last week’s FTC settlement with Facebook, and Hawley’s bill would make it unlawful for tech companies to use dark patterns to manipulate users into opting into services. For example, “accept” and “decline” checkboxes would need to be the same font, format, and size to help users make better, more informed choices.