Utah becomes the first US state to require age verification and parental permission for all social media platforms for accounts and profiles made by children under 18.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed two pieces of sweeping social media regulation into law Thursday that require social media companies to get parental consent for minors using their services, making Utah the first state to impose such measures in the U.S.
Versions of the regulations are being considered in four other states and in several federal proposals in Congress.
The new Utah laws — H.B. 311 and S.B. 152 — require that social media companies verify the age of any Utah resident who makes a social media profile and get parental consent for any minor who wishes to make a profile. It also forces social media companies to allow parents to access posts and messages from their child’s account.
The laws also prohibit social media companies from displaying ads to minors, showing minor accounts in search results, collecting information about minors, targeting or suggesting content to minors, or knowingly integrating addictive technologies into social media apps used by minors. They also impose a curfew on the use of social media for minors, locking them out of their social media accounts between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. based on the location of a user’s device, unless adjusted with the consent of a parent.
Utah’s laws come amid ongoing debates about the impact of social media on young people’s mental health, a link that is widely theorized but remains the subject of academic study. Mental health issues among young people have been labeled a crisis, with particular concerns about the mental health of young women.
Social media companies have until March 1, 2024, to comply with the laws, at which point they become punishable with potential civil and criminal penalties.
In interviews with NBC News, sponsors of the legislation said that they were motivated by mental health concerns posed by social media use among young people, and that they hope Utah’s new laws serve as inspiration for other states or for Congress.
I think this is going to get tied up in the courts for years, but I suspect more voters than not would support laws like this nationally. What I expect are drastically weakened laws that will emerge from the court battles in five years or so.
What I'm saying is, don't expect Utah's social media law to ever take effect as is.