1. Home
  2. tech
  3. news
  4. Social media has gotten so bad that America's top doctor is intervening

Social media has gotten so bad that America's top doctor is intervening

Dan DeFrancesco   

Social media has gotten so bad that America's top doctor is intervening
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

Hi! Who says the movies are dead? Disney's "Inside Out 2" took home $295 million at the global box office over the weekend, a record opening for an animated movie.

In today's big story, we're looking at the surgeon general suggesting warning labels for social media. (Let us know which side you are on.)

What's on deck:

But first, follow at your own risk.

If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.

The big story

A solution for socials

Social media has gotten so bad that the country's top doctor is intervening.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times calling for social media to come with a warning label like the ones you find on cigarette packs, writes Business Insider's Geoff Weiss.

In his piece, Murthy said social media is a key culprit of the mental health crisis young people are facing. A warning label reminding people it is "associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents" could help the problem, he argued.

It's not something Murthy can install on his own. The labels would require congressional approval. And Murthy's comparison to cigarette warnings might be misplaced, writes BI's Katie Notopoulos, who suggests explicit lyrics on music might be a better fit.

Murthy has taken shots at social media before. Last year he called for legislation to protect young people from harassment, abuse, and exploitation, and more transparency from tech companies.

Major social media companies remained largely silent regarding Murthy's suggestion, but the tech lobbying group Chamber of Progress was quick to respond.

"Putting a warning label on online speech isn't just scientifically unsound. It's at odds with the constitutional right to free speech," group CEO Adam Kovacevich said in a statement.

Vote here to let us know whether you favor a warning label.

Murthy's recommendation comes at a unique time for social media.

If the US ban on TikTok can survive the courts, it will be a watershed moment for the industry. (Yes, TikTok's ties to China muddy the waters, but a successful ban would still mean lawmakers shutting down a popular app used by millions of Americans.)

It's not just TikTok. Generative AI adds more fuel to the misinformation fire social media platforms have been battling for years.

AI tools make it easier for bad actors to fabricate stories, images, and videos that can influence people. And it's all happening in the lead-up to a contentious presidential election. There are also concerns surrounding AI-generated avatars' impact on influencers, writes BI's Dan Whateley.

And yet, things have never been better for some companies.

Meta, the godfather of social media, is perhaps the best example. On January 31, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with a handful of other tech CEOS, was grilled by Congress during a hearing on online child sexual exploitation.

At one point, Zuckerberg was pressured to physically stand up and face families affected by online abuse. In the long battle to force tech CEOs to get their companies in line, it felt like a potential turning point.

More than four months later, though, the only thing that's seemed to change is Meta's stock price. The company's share price is up more than 28% since that contentious hearing.

3 things in markets

  1. How one hedge fund got off to a booming start this year. Schonfeld's flagship fund is leading returns among the main multistrategy managers. It's an impressive turnaround for a firm that faced takeover talks in 2023. But it hasn't come easy, with the loss of portfolio managers and research executives amid a strategy shift.
  2. Has the market peaked? Investors are worrying the market has reached its top amid record highs, according to Bank of America. The bank identified 10 indicators of a market peak, like elevated M&A activity and sell-side strategists overwhelmingly recommending allocating to stocks. But don't worry, we've only triggered four so far.
  3. June could see a rise in bankruptcies and unemployment. That's according to Wall Street forecaster Danielle DiMartino Booth, who pointed to the rise in corporate bankruptcies over the past year. It's a sign that businesses are struggling under higher interest rates.

3 things in tech

  1. Status updates are so back. Instagram notes are growing at a "wild pace" and the app plans to expand the AIM-like feature for users. Bad news for creators, though: Notes are best suited to mutuals who follow each other, not for the influencing class.
  2. iPhones might be getting the Ozempic treatment. Apple is reportedly aiming to slim down its iPhones, as well as some MacBook Pros and Apple Watch models, by next year. It also appears to be making its phones less reliant on WiFi and cellular connectivity, a move that could eventually become a revenue stream for Apple.
  3. Adobe is having a terrible month. The Department of Justice is suing Adobe over deceptive subscription practices, with the lawsuit claiming the company hides fees and makes it hard to cancel subscriptions. It comes after public backlash over using artists' content to train AI models.

3 things in business

  1. Marketing's trailblazers. From fast food and fashion to finance and baby formula, here are 34 CMOs changing the game in 2024. Many of them are making fast use of social media platforms like TikTok and investing heavily in AI.
  2. BlackRock's solution to the retirement crisis is a catch-22. To avoid economic catastrophe, CEO Larry Fink argued, people should work longer and save more money. The problem? Many older people who do want to work are overlooked in favor of younger employees.
  3. Zyn could get tougher to buy. The maker of the popular nicotine pouch has paused online sales after receiving a subpoena from the District of Columbia about sales of flavored tobacco products — which have been banned in DC since October 2022.

In other news

What's happening today

  • Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun testifies in Congress on the company's safety culture.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, senior editor, in London. George Glover, reporter, in London. Annie Smith, associate producer, in London. Amanda Yen, fellow, in New York.