The governor of Utah took a victory lap after signing two bills designed to protect children and teens from harmful, anti-free speech social media platforms.
The Republican governor of Utah, Spencer J. Cox, signed two bills into law aimed at protecting children who use social media apps. “We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth,” Gov. Cox tweeted, referring to the new legislation. The governor signed the bill the same day TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress amid a growing bipartisan consensus on TikTok’s national security risks and mental health harms.
In his tweet, Gov. Cox described the two state social media bills. “SB152 requires social media companies to verify that users in the state are 18 or older to open an account. Minors will need parental consent to create an account,” he wrote. “HB311 prohibits social media companies from using a design or feature that causes addiction for a minor to the company’s social media platform. This bill also makes it easier for people to sue social media companies for damages.”
Cox added that “Utah’s leading the way in holding social media companies accountable – and we’re not slowing down anytime soon.” He included a link to a new website, socialmedia.utah.gov, which offers educational resources on the two laws and a way for parents to file complaints against social media practices related to children.
The new legislation appears to respond to evidence that popular apps such as Instagram and Communist Chinese government-tied TikTok have negative effects on children’s mental health. The TikTok algorithm has been shown to have addictive qualities, like Instagram’s algorithm, and to show minors inappropriate content.
A recent Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans agree with those assessments. Seventy-two percent of Americans surveyed said they “think it is likely that TikTok” is “causing harm to teens’ mental health” and 50 percent agreed it was “likely… encouraging illegal activity through TikTok trends.”
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