Aug 16, 2023 - Podcasts

Protecting child social media influencers

Illinois is the first state in the country to pass legislation to protect child social media influencers. The new law ensures children under 16 featured in online videos and platforms are compensated for their work.

The big picture: Most social media platforms don't allow children to have an account until they are 13. But, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram are flooded with pages, run by adults, gaining income by using young kids in their content. We take a look at how Illinois' law could change things around the country.

Guests: Axios' Justin Kaufmann, Matt Phillips and Nathan Bomey.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Alexandra Botti, Fonda Mwangi, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Robin Linn and Ben O'Brien. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.


NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It's Wednesday, August 16th. I'm Niala Boodhoo. Today: the shortage of ADHD drugs in the U.S. Plus, the limits of autocratic economies. But first: protecting child influencers. That's today's One Big Thing.

Protecting child influencers

NIALA: Most social media platforms don't allow children to have an account until they are 13. But, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram are flooded with pages – run by adults – gaining income by using young kids in their content.

Well, Illinois has now become the first state in the country to pass legislation to protect child social media influencers. The new law ensures children under 16 featured in online videos and platforms are compensated for their work. The bill was signed into law last week, but doesn't go into effect until July 2024.

Axios' Chicago Reporter Justin Kaufmann is here with the big picture and what this could mean beyond Illinois. Hey, Justin.


NIALA: What exactly does this law entail?

JUSTIN: This is a brand new territory for everybody. It's a new law. It's the first of its kind in the country. While most online child protection laws are geared toward privacy, this one is geared toward compensation. It targets parents who are making money off of kids' vlogs and online content and just pocketing the cash. So now in the state of Illinois, if you do that, you have to put a percentage of those earnings into a trust where the child will have access to it at the age of 18. And if you don't, the law also lets the kids sue.

NIALA: Who was behind the push to create this law?

JUSTIN: Yeah, well, Illinois is a leader in the country already when it comes to legislating digital companies. There have been several class action payouts over privacy. Brands like TikTok, Facebook, and the latest Instagram. That has made Illinois one of the most stringent when it comes to taking on digital privacy concerns. This isn't necessarily digital privacy. So it comes from people coming forward to representatives down in Springfield in our state capitol saying, you know, this is happening, and the younger staffers in some of these representative offices got very excited about taking on this issue and actually taught up some of the actual lawmakers about how prevalent this was, not just in Illinois, but around the world.

NIALA: Does this influencer's law have a potential now to be a model for other states?

JUSTIN: Absolutely, and it's, you know, other states have tried to put this kind of into their child labor laws. We saw something in California that got rolled back, the state of Washington. So this isn't the first time that people have thought about maybe regulating this part of the industry, but it's the first time it's been enacted.

When you think about it, there are already laws on the books when it comes to childhood entertainers. Several states have protections when it comes to schooling and how many hours you can be on TV, things like that. They're union members. So this is brand new territory and if the state of Illinois is successful in regulating this area, it's sure to be that other states will follow suit.

NIALA: Justin Kaufmann, one of the authors of Axios' Chicago Newsletter. Thanks, Justin.

JUSTIN: Thanks, Niala.

ADHD drug shortages

NIALA: A continuing shortage of medications for those with ADHD, including Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta, has patients and doctors worried. The use of prescription stimulants like these to treat ADHD doubled from 2006 to 2016. And during the pandemic, the number of people who had a prescription filled for these medications to manage school, work and relationships rose by more than 10%. That's according to the CDC. But, experts say increased demand is only one reason for the shortage. As with hundreds of other drugs, ADHD medications have been vulnerable to supply chain issues, and they're subject to controlled substance regulations, which can cause further delays. As a result, earlier this month, the FDA and the DEA took the rare step of issuing a joint public letter asking drug manufacturers to increase production. And right now, as schools are beginning, this shortage is of particular concern to parents of kids with ADHD, because it can cause behavioral changes, anxiety, and academic underperformance.

Is this a concern for you or your family right now? I'd love to hear from you as we continue our coverage. You can send a voice memo of your thoughts or experience to 202-918-4893.

In a moment, why dictators make lousy economic leaders.

Why strongman economies aren't working

Here's some good news about democracies. Right now, it seems elected governments are doing much better economically than autocratic countries. Axios' Matt Phillips is here to unpack why strongmen are losing out economically. Hey, Matt.


NIALA: Matt, make the case for us. How are authoritarian or autocratic countries like Russia or China doing economically compared to us?

MATT: I mean, I think the best case is being made in the currency markets, at the moment. The Russian ruble really suffered a sharp collapse again on Monday. It's down to its lowest levels since right after its invasion of Ukraine. Whether you're looking at Turkey, where inflation has been a massive problem over the last year, or even China, which has really been such a cornerstone of global growth, and the system really seems to be faltering under the weight of excessive debts and really destabilizing swerves by the government in terms of how they're approaching the business class and making sure growth keeps going.

NIALA: How much of that economic growth or lack of that has to actually do with the type of government?

MATT: It's not just the system, but it's actually the strong men that are in charge. You know, whether you're talking about a Putin, who essentially made this decision to invade Ukraine single-handedly, or Turkey's Erdogan, who had his own theories about why you shouldn't raise interest rates when inflation is going nuts. I mean, which is technically the Orthodox economic move. He kept his central bank from doing that. Or even, uh, Xi Jinping in China, who had a real fixation on the zero COVID policy, these are men who are at the top of their systems, and there is no option for voting them out. And we're really seeing why investing so much power in one individual at the top of the system can really lead to bad outcomes for economies and, really, societies much more broadly.

NIALA: When we look back through history, has this always been the case?

MATT: There is a longstanding relationship between autocrats and really poor economic performance. There's a tendency for autocratic governments to put pressure on central banks to keep printing the money they need to generate growth, and that can result in inflation and really impoverish the population. I mean, you just have to look at a country like Venezuela, which in the 1950s was one of the richest countries in the world. And now we're really seeing horrible levels of poverty largely because of mismanagement and poor governance there.

So, I've been covering markets for going on 15 years now. And, in the years after the financial crisis that hit the West in 2008, you would hear a lot of commentary about the power of the Chinese state-led model for capitalism that, you know, in those years when China was still growing at 10%, 8%, 9%, the U.S. was struggling to just make 2% growth, a lot of the discussion was like how they had sort of solved capitalism, the problems of the economy, just with the brute force of the government.

But, they haven't solved the problems of the economy. And in fact, the system that's sort of championed by the Chinese, but also, in Russia as well, sort of state-led capitalism with a strong emphasis on commodities and industry, we're seeing the real weaknesses of that system now, and that it's inflexible, and that it has trouble self-correcting, so that's, why this is important to just take a step back and take note of this because we're doing pretty well in the West right now.

NIALA: Matt Phillips is an Axios markets correspondent. Thanks, Matt.

MATT: Thank you.

Listening-only concert tickets

NIALA: This summer people have been clamoring to get into concerts by artists like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and Harry Styles despite an average ticket price of more than $200 and often costing much more. Now, the music industry seems to have found a new way to squeeze revenue out of its biggest acts. That's according to Axios' Nathan Bomey. Here he is with more.

NATHAN BOMEY: They're calling it "listening seats" or "listening-only seats." And this has been spotted on Ticketmaster for stops on Beyonce's big tour, the "Renaissance World Tour," that's going throughout the country. And these seats are listed as having either no view or no stage view. Now, this means that if you buy a ticket, which can actually still cost hundreds of dollars, you pretty much can't see Beyonce. Now, there are some reports of people who buy a ticket for this listening-only seat and can actually catch a little glimpse of Queen Bey herself if she walks to the edge of the stage, for example. But, for the most part, this is the essence of an obstructed view. I mean, we're all used to seeing tickets sold that warn you about your view being obstructed. How about no view at all? That's apparently what's happening here. For example, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, they were selling tickets for $226 just to listen only.

It's not really clear how widely available these tickets are at this point. Ticketmaster's not commenting on it, but I think you can expect to see more of this as the music industry tries to squeeze more money outta their biggest acts.

NIALA: That's Axios business reporter Nathan Bomey. You can get more stories like these in the Axios Closer newsletter. That's it for us today! I'm Niala Boodhoo, thanks for listening, stay safe, and we'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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