President Biden calls for ban on social media ads aimed at kids

State of the Union features call for Congress to pass law that could see Intel spend $100B on chip factories

United States president Joe Biden has used his first State of the Union speech to call for a ban on social networks serving ads targeted at children.

Speaking in the presence of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who was invited to attend by first lady Jill Biden, the president said "we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they're conducting on our children for profit."

"It's time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children," he thundered.

Haugen exposed internal documents that revealed Facebook knew up to three per cent of teenage girls experience depression or anxiety, or self-harm as a result of using Instagram, and nonetheless pursued a special version of the app targeting teens. The project was later cancelled.

Let's make sure corporations start paying their fair share of tax

Another techie present at the speech was Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who got a mention in the context of the chipmaking giant's $20 billion plan to build silicon fabrication plants in Ohio.

Biden used his address to urge Congress to pass the Innovation and Competition Act, which includes billions of investments in AI, quantum computing and semiconductor research – in part because if it becomes law Gelsinger "told me they [Intel] are ready to increase their investment from $20 billion to $100 billion."

The president also tied Intel's plans to American efforts to compete with China, saying that the Innovation Act will help "to level the playing field with China and other competitors."

More local chipmaking was also tied to addressing inflation, which is currently running at a forty-year high of 7.5 per cent, causing much economic pain stateside and contributing to the Biden administration's tepid popularity.

"Last year, there weren't enough semiconductors to make all the cars that people wanted to buy," Biden lamented. "And guess what? Prices of automobiles went up." More onshore manufacturing was touted as a way to address inflation and protect American industry from supply chain uncertainties.

The address of course touched on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Biden had this to say about new US sanctions:

We are choking off Russia's access to technology – that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come.

The president also announced that the US has closed its airspace to flights from Russia and created a new Department of Justice taskforce "to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs."

"We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets," he warned.

Perhaps ironically, the address also put America's own oligarchs – including Big Tech – on notice that Biden wants to change their circumstances too. Because the current US tax system is "not fair".

"I'm not looking to punish anyone. But let's make sure corporations and the wealthiest Americans start paying their fair share," Biden said, adding "Just last year, 55 Fortune 500 corporations earned $40 billion in profits and paid zero dollars in federal income tax."

"That's simply not fair. That's why I've proposed a 15 per cent minimum tax rate for corporations."

"For the past 40 years we were told that if we gave tax breaks to those at the very top, the benefits would trickle down to everyone else. But that trickle-down theory led to weaker economic growth, lower wages, bigger deficits, and the widest gap between those at the top and everyone else in nearly a century." ®

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