Utah Governor Spencer Cox recently signed two sweeping pieces of social media regulation into law, making Utah the first state to impose such measures. The laws, H.B. 311 and S.B. 152 require social media companies to obtain parental consent for minors to use their services and to verify the age of any Utah resident who creates a social media profile.
According to NBC News, the bills also prohibit social media companies from displaying ads to minors, showing minor accounts in search results, collecting information about minors, and integrating addictive technologies into social media apps used by minors. The laws 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.
Social media platforms have until March 1, 2024, to comply with the laws, at which point they become punishable with potential civil and criminal penalties. Versions of the regulations are being considered in four other states and several federal proposals in Congress. The laws come amid ongoing debates about the impact of social media on young people’s mental health.
Sponsors of the legislation hope that Utah’s new laws serve as inspiration for other states or Congress. However, critics argue that the rules are a form of government overreach that will have effects outside the state’s borders, as social media companies will struggle to know who is or isn’t a full-time Utah resident.