Utah lawmakers reveal new bills to protect teens from social media companies

Jan 10, 2023, 6:37 PM | Updated: 6:40 pm
Social Media and Youth Mental Health Symposium. (KSL-TV)...
Social Media and Youth Mental Health Symposium. (KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers announced several bills for the upcoming legislative session to protect children from social media’s harmful effects on Tuesday.

During a panel discussion today for Governor Spencer Cox’s Social Media & Youth Mental Health Symposium, lawmakers Sen. Kirk Cullimore, Mike Mckell, and Rep. Jordan Teuscher revealed that a package of bills will be presented in the 2023 Legislative Session.

The bills are intended to prevent social media companies from collecting and selling data from Utah children, hold social media companies accountable for harmful algorithms, and give parents more control over the social media their children use.

“I think if we work together, we can empower parents, and more than anything, we want parents to have tools when dealing with social media in their homes,” McKell explained.

Gov. Spencer Cox addresses mental health problems caused by social media towards teenagers

In the days ahead, McKell plans to release his bill that seeks to prohibit social media companies from collecting and selling data from children, puts strict age verification rules in place for using social media apps like TikTok and Instagram, and provides more parental controls over the app including, a feature that would allow parents to turn off the app for a period of time.

“We would require the social media company to do that verification, and if it’s not done correctly, the state of Utah could bring an action,” McKell said. “We’re also considering a private writ of action where those who have been harmed, if it’s you as a parent, if it’s a school that’s been harmed, and if you’re within that line of harm, you could bring a legal claim,” said McKell.

A second bill discussed at the Governor’s symposium will address harmful algorithms social media companies implement to target users. There may also be a third bill created during this upcoming session aimed at removing cell phones from the classroom.

“We want parents to be involved, we understand and recognize that is the most important role we have as parents to be involved with our kids, and we want to make sure those tools are in place,” McKell said.

KSL TV will continue to monitor any potential legislation regarding social media and provide updates as the bills become available.

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Utah lawmakers reveal new bills to protect teens from social media companies