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Utah becomes the first state to enact laws restricting vulnerable teens from dangerous social media exposure.

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Utah social media ban

Utah social media ban

Utah passes a groundbreaking legislation that prohibits youngsters from using social media without parental consent.

Utah has taken some major steps towards protecting children’s online privacy and well-being by enacting new laws that limit their access to social media. The measures, signed into law by Republican Governor Spencer Cox, require parental consent before children can sign up for popular sites like TikTok and Instagram, and prohibit social media use between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am.

Additionally, the laws mandate age verification for anyone wishing to use social media sites within the state and aim to prevent tech companies from using addictive features to attract younger users. These measures reflect a growing awareness among lawmakers, including Republicans, of the potential risks of unchecked social media use and the need for greater accountability from technology companies.

The passage of these laws also demonstrates the importance of bipartisan cooperation in addressing complex issues such as children’s online safety. By prioritizing the protection of young people’s digital lives, Utah’s lawmakers have set an important precedent for other states to follow. As society becomes increasingly reliant on technology, it is critical that we take steps to ensure that our youngest and most vulnerable members are not put at risk.

TikTok CEO’s response to legislation:

The exponential growth of technology giants such as Facebook and Google over the past decade has raised concerns over user privacy, hate speech, misinformation, and its impact on teenagers’ mental health. As a result, lawmakers are beginning to take notice and attempt to regulate the industry.

TikTok’s CEO testified before Congress on the same day that Utah’s law was signed, raising concerns about the app’s impact on teenagers’ mental health. The testimony emphasized the need for greater oversight and accountability for technology companies, especially those that cater to young users.

The legislation received Support from other countries:

As federal legislation on child privacy and online safety stalls, many states, including red states such as Arkansas, Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana, are supporting the cause and taking matters into their own hands by proposing similar laws. Even New Jersey has a similar proposal in the works. However, California has already enacted a law that prioritizes kids’ safety by prohibiting tech companies from profiling children or using their personal information in ways that could be harmful. In addition to obtaining parental consent, social media companies would need to create new features to comply with the law’s provisions, which would prohibit promoting ads to minors and displaying them in search results. However, the enforcement mechanism for these new regulations remains unclear in Utah’s and other states’ proposed laws. Tech giants such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook by Meta and Instagram, generate most of their revenue by targeting advertisements to their users.

Utah Bill prohibits Ads to children:

Utah Governor Spencer Cox has signed a bill prohibiting social media platforms from targeting ads and features to children under 13. The law also requires age verification and parental consent for minors to create a social media account. The move has been welcomed by children’s advocacy groups, though some have expressed concerns that the access given to parents to view their children’s social media posts could compromise their online privacy. Mr Cox said studies have shown that time spent on social media leads to “poor mental health outcomes” for children. “We remain very optimistic that we will be able to pass not just here in the state of Utah but across the country legislation that significantly changes the relationship of our children with these very destructive social media apps,” he said.

Mr Cox had signed legislation about two years ago requiring tech companies to automatically block porn on all new smartphones and tablets due to the risks it posed to youngsters.

The social media ban comes at a time when parents and legislators are becoming more concerned about children’s and teenagers’ usage of the platforms and how sites like TikTok, Instagram, and others are hurting the mental health of young people. It is scheduled to go into effect in March 2024, and Mr Cox has previously stated that he anticipates that social media corporations will challenge it in the court

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