SALT LAKE CITY (LifeSiteNews) – The Utah legislature has passed legislation requiring parental consent for minors to have a social media account, amid ongoing controversy over Big Tech’s responsibility–or lack thereof–for how their platforms are used.
S.B. 152, the Social Media Regulation Amendments, requires all social media users in the Beehive State to confirm they are 18 or older in order to set up an account and for minors to receive consent from their parents to do so. The state Division of Consumer Protection would be tasked with determining what constitutes acceptable verification.
H.B. 311, the Social Media Usage Amendments, makes social media companies liable for “any addiction, financial, physical, or emotional harm suffered as a consequence” of using their platforms. Both measures have cleared both chambers of the state legislature. Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has already confirmed he will sign S.B. 152.
The governor said he expects litigation over the new law, but “can’t wait to get in front of a judge and jury with ease. It will be one of the happiest days of my life. We get to show the world what they’ve known and what they’ve been doing,” Axios reports.
While not discussed as often as Big Tech’s censorship of conservative views, children’s safety on social media platforms remains a subject of ongoing concern. Facebook, for instance, has been sued over teenage trafficking victims who met their pimps via its Facebook Messenger and Instagram platforms.
Their lawsuits accuse the company of negligence and product liability on the grounds that the platform offers “a point of first contact between sex traffickers and these children” and “an unrestricted platform to stalk, exploit, recruit, groom, and extort children into the sex trade”; and that the company failed to warn of or prevent its platform being used for sex trafficking, and even benefitted from the practice.
In 2021, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Facebook could be held accountable for the crimes, as federal law allows states to hold websites civilly liable for facilitating human trafficking, whether through action or inaction.