State Watch

Utah becomes first state to require parental consent for minors using social media

FILE – Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City. (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP, Pool, File)

Utah on Thursday became the first state to bar minors from using social media without consent from a parent or guardian after Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed two bills aimed at regulating how minors interact online in the state — one requiring companies to verify the age of users before they can create accounts.

Cox followed through on a promise to sign the two divisive bills: Utah Senate Bill 152, which requires users to be 18 or older to open a social media account without parental permission, and Utah House Bill 311, which prohibits social media companies from “using a design or feature that causes a minor to have an addiction” to the platform.

Among other measures, the new laws will set up a curfew that will lock minors out of their accounts between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., unless a parent permits that the time restriction can be lifted. It will also require parents to have the the ability to set a time limit on how long a minor can use their accounts.

Social media companies are also barred from displaying minors’ accounts in public search results and from advertising to minor accounts.

“We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth,” Cox said on Twitter, announcing the bill signings. “Utah’s leading the way in holding social media companies accountable – and we’re not slowing down anytime soon.”

The Utah governor said last week that he expects legal challenges to the bills and is ready to face them, arguing that existing case law on the matter was “wrongly decided.”

The new restrictions won’t take effect until March 1, 2024. But, Cox said he’ll be working with social media companies over the next year to figure out how the new laws will be implemented.

He lauded the “first-of-their-kind” bills at a Thursday press conference, arguing that other states and the federal government should follow Utah’s lead on the restrictions aimed at protecting minors online.

Tags big tech Social media Spencer Cox Spencer Cox Utah

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