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EDITORIAL/Social Media Restrictions: Utah leads the way, but will new laws survive?

March 26, 2023 at 10:00 p.m.

Last week Utah's Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed two pieces of landmark legislation aimed at protecting minors from harmful influences on social media.

But will those laws survive?

The new laws require social media companies to verify the ages of Utah users. Minors will only be able to open accounts if their parents give permission.

Advertising is not permitted on minors' accounts. And companies must shut off access to the accounts of those under 18 at 10:30 p.m.

Cox admitted Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the new restrictions aren't "foolproof" and that adjustments will likely have to be made down the road. But, he said,"This is about empowering families. It's about empowering parents. And it's about holding these social media companies accountable for what we know now,"

Other states and even the federal government have considered regulating minors' access to social media -- a bill filed in Texas last year would have completely banned anyone under 18 from using the platforms -- but Utah is the first state to enact such laws.

Don't expect social media companies to knuckle under. Technology to comply with the new laws will cost money. And the ban on advertising will mean the companies will lose out on that revenue stream. So we expect court challenges.

That's their right. But social media companies need to understand a lot of parents are concerned about their children's use of these platforms. That concern is not going away. Utah's new laws should be a wake-up call for these companies to voluntarily develop needed protections. Or else they will see a lot more laws like Utah's.

Print Headline: EDITORIAL/Social Media Restrictions: Utah leads the way, but will new laws survive?


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