Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) has signed two pieces of legislation that require social media companies to get parental consent for minors to use their platforms.
“We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth,” Gov. Cox said in a tweet on Thursday.
The Utah governor explained that he signed two key bills into law in Utah’s fight against social media companies: Senate Bill 152 (SB152) and House Bill 311 (HB311).
SB152 “requires social media companies to verify that users in the state are 18 or older to open an account. Minors will need parental consent to create an account,” Cox said.
Meanwhile, HB311 “prohibits social media companies from using a design or feature that causes addiction for a minor to the company’s social media platform. This bill also makes it easier for people to sue social media companies for damages,” the governor added.
Cox went on to say that Utah is “leading the way in holding social media companies accountable — and we’re not slowing down anytime soon.”
According to the governor’s website, starting on March 1, 2024, SB152 will require that social media companies do the following:
Verify the adult age of a Utah resident seeking to maintain or open a social media account, get the consent of a parent or guardian for users under age 18, allow parents full access to their child’s account, create a default curfew setting that blocks access overnight (10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.) which can be adjusted by parents, prohibit direct messaging by anyone who the child hasn’t followed or friended, and block underage accounts from search results.
Additionally, social media companies will not be allowed to collect a child’s data or target children’s accounts for advertising.
If social media companies violate these rules, they will be fined up to $2,500 per violation by the Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection, which also has the authority to seek additional remedies through the courts, the governor’s office said.
As for HB311, it outlines penalties for social media companies targeting users under the age of 18 with “addictive algorithms.”
Social media companies using addictive design features could be fined up to $250,000. There is also a penalty of up to $2,500 per child exposed to an addictive feature. The law also allows parents to sue social media companies directly for financial, physical, or emotional harms.
Gov. Cox’s move on Thursday makes Utah the first state to enact such measures in the United States. Meanwhile, similar legislation regarding social media companies is being considered in Arkansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Ohio.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.