New Utah Kids’ Social Media Law Has Huge National Implications
TWO NEW SOCIAL MEDIA BILLS IN UTAH COULD HAVE NATIONAL REPERCUSSIONS ON PRIVACY NATIONWIDE
The fact that how kids use social media has major mental health implications is a very real problem. Though it’s also hard to ignore the other fact, that social media also has major, negative impacts on democracies and social movements around the globe. But what can be done if large governments like the United States’ won’t properly regulate them? The intersection of free speech, advertisement and anonymity are hard to unravel legally and politically. But the US state of Utah is making a move to try to regulate kids’ social media use, and it could have major implications nationally.
IN JUST A YEAR, NEW REGULATIONS COULD MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA USE DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT
By this time next year, social media may function very differently in Utah. This past week, Utah’s governor Spencer J. Cox signed two bills that regulate kids’ use of social media. Together, the two bills call for all social media platforms to verify each and every users’ ages. And for anyone under the age of 18, there will be rules governing their online activity, including curfews, increased privacy from advertisers yet less from their parents, as well as the ability to sue platforms over particular damages, such as addiction. All of these developments sound positive on paper. But they will cause many unintended legal ripples across both the pond (not the Atlantic Ocean) and the country.
INTERSECTION OF SOCIAL MEDIA, PRIVACY, FREE SPEECH, CHILDREN AND ANONYMITY IS A CONUNDRUM
Advertisers already don’t like the implications for them, as they won’t be able to display as many ads for kids. But they also point out that the age verification requirement will diminish user anonymity, and will also allow companies to collect even more user data than before, regardless of age. The two bills also allow parents to access all of their kids’ posts and messages as well, which is a red flag for privacy and free speech as Americans currently understand them. Several other US states are considering social media laws for kids, as is the United States Congress. So new regulations are coming across the US, and soon. But regulations that decrease privacy instead of increasing it don’t seem to be the solution.