New reports state that social media companies are expecting their user numbers to drop once policies set out by the Online Safety Bill come into effect. This decline could have a knock-on effect for the industry, which is already struggling with revenues.
The Financial Times reports that the legislation will begin its final journey through the House of Commons soon. One key policy in the bill will see social media companies having to create age verification features on their platforms.
“Companies can use their vast resources and ingenuity to develop their own solutions or use the range of age assurance technologies already on offer which protect people’s privacy and are used in other industries”, said the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The newspaper writes that this will not only remove underage users, but also make it more difficult for individuals fearful of privacy issues or without proper ID. With greater restrictions, comes less users, and consequently less people to advertise to, experts explained.
As a consequence, advertising, which is the main source of income for many social media platforms, will be less effective and less profitable.
Another issue with the legislation is that it could impact freedom of speech. TikTok employees told the Financial Times that verification will lead to less users, which potentially means less diverse content being published.
The article reports that social media platform Yubo, which mainly serves teenagers, saw a 10 and 20 per cent decline in users after introducing age verification technology in May 2022.