Utah enacts unprecedented laws aimed at protecting minors on social media

Reading Time: 2 minutes Governor Spencer Cox signed S.B. 152 and H.B. 311 in a ceremony at the Utah State Capitol Building; the pair of bills are aimed at protecting minors from “addictive” elements of social media and setting new requirements for companies when creating accounts for minors.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Unprecedented legislation aimed at regulating minor usage of social media was signed by Governor Cox in a ceremony at the Utah State Capitol Building.

Occurring March 23, Cox signed S.B. 152, and H.B. 311, in which combined imposes several regulations of social media companies in regard to how minors use their platforms. These include measures to verify a users age, restricting messaging with certain accounts, regulating time spent on social media, a ban on personalized ads for minors, granting parent oversight over these accounts, and prohibiting certain practices of a social media app that keep a user addicted.

“Really proud of all those who worked on this legislation and my legislative colleagues for supporting it,” stated State Senator Mike McKell, sponsor of S.B. 152, on his twitter feed.

Mental health, addictive effects were reasons cited by lawmakers as to the reason they have pursued this legislation, concerned about how this is affecting minors

“Social media is having severe consequences for Utah teens,” the Utah State Senate twitter account read. “ During the session, lawmakers worked to give parents more control and resources by regulating social media companies. This afternoon [Governor Cox] signed legislation to safeguard teens from the effects of social media.”

The move by the state government to enact this legislation has led many to wonder the legality of both bills, some saying that limiting the usage of social media of anyone would violate the 1st amendment. Cox acknowledged these worries during the ceremony on March 23.

“Will there be legal challenges? Absolutely. We understand that,” Cox stated to reporters from the Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m not going to back down from a potential legal challenge.”

Both bills are set to take effect May 3, 2023, at which point if no legal action has been taken, the regulations will be in full enforcement and social media companies will have to start enforcing these rules with users who are under the age of 18.

The Review will continue to update as this story develops.