Gov. Spencer Cox signs social media regulation amendments into law

File image: Video still, Facebook/Gov. Spencer Cox

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 23, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer Cox has signed Senate Bill 152, the Social Media Regulation Amendments, into law.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike McKell (R-District 25, Utah County), places restrictions on social media companies and provides parents with additional tools to protect teens from the harmful effects of social media, a statement from the Utah State Senate says.

“In February, the CDC released data showing that nearly three in five (57%) of U.S. teen girls persistently felt sad or hopeless in 2021, doubling that of boys,” it says.

“Additionally, the data showed that nearly one in three girls seriously contemplated suicide. Since 2010, rates of depression and mental health crises in American teens have nearly doubled, where before, rates remained stagnant. Social media creation and use have been linked to these increased rates.”

McKell said in the released statement that, “In Utah, we care deeply about our teen’s mental health. Since 2009, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation has drastically increased among minors in Utah and across the United States.

“After reviewing the data and talking with teens and parents, I decided to run S.B. 152 Social Media Regulation Amendments. Utah is leading the way to fight back against the harms of social media and providing parents with more resources and controls. As a lawmaker and parent, I believe we are helping prevent our children from succumbing to social media’s negative and sometimes life-threatening effects.”

S.B. 152 enacts an age-verification process and allows parents or legal guardians to set time restrictions on social media use, the statement says. The bill also blocks direct messages to minors without being “friends” on the platform and prevents social media companies from collecting and selling data on minors.

IAP, the Internet Accountability Project, released a statement praising the Utah lawmakers’ move. IAP describes itself as “a conservative grassroots advocacy organization that opposes Big Tech and seeks to hold these companies accountable for their bad acts.”

The group’s senior counsel, Will Chamberlain, authored the statement, which says, in part:

“Utah is taking a brave stand on behalf of families to protect children from the harmful effects of addictive social media apps. Even though Big Tech and their allies will certainly sue the state of Utah over these commonsense protections, Gov. Cox signed the legislation and he should be commended for sticking up for Utah families.”


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