Holding Social Media Accountable

The Utah State Legislature passed SB 194 and HB 464 during the 2024 General Session to protect minors who on social media platforms. SB 194 blocks harmful and addictive product features on social media, protects minors’ privacy, and gives parents the tools and resources they need to keep their children safe. HB 464 holds social media companies responsible for mental health problems they cause through the design of their platforms.

What Social Media Companies Can and Can’t Do

S.B. 194 Social Media Regulation Amendments

Utah Minor Protection in Social Media Act

Social media companies must identify minors on their platforms, and by default provide the platform’s highest data privacy settings for minors. Platforms must also provide tools to minors and their parents so they can set appropriate boundaries together. Settings that lead to excessive use must also be turned off for minors.

  • Enacts an age assurance process so that social media platforms can identify minors, and thereby create a safer experience for them.
  • Requires default privacy settings for a minor account holder that defaults to only allow direct messages and visibility between accounts that are connected.
    • These settings can only be overridden by a parent or guardian.
  • Protects the security of minor personal information by requiring reasonable security measures and encryption.
  • Disables search engine indexing of minor accounts.
  • Disables features that lead to excessive use, including autoplay, perpetual scrolling, and push notifications. 
  • Requires social media companies to offer supervisory tools to oversee minor accounts, including: 
    • Setting time limits
    • Scheduling mandatory breaks
    • Viewing total and daily average use time
    • Seeing connected accounts
  • Prevents social media companies from collecting and selling data on minors without consent from a verifiable parent or legal guardian.

H.B. 464 Social Media Amendments

Social media companies that use curation algorithms are responsible for the mental health problems their platforms cause. If a Utah minor (or their parent) sues a social media company for mental health harm, the platform is presumed to have caused the harm if it uses a curation algorithm. Learn more about the laws related to social media below.

  • Provides a rebuttable presumption of harm to minors using social media platforms with curated algorithms and engagement-driven design features
  • Gives minors and their parents or legal guardians the ability to hold social media companies liable for the harm addictive algorithms have caused children through a private right of action
  • Allows social media companies to legally overcome the assumption that their products cause harm if they: 
    • Obtain parental consent for a minor’s use of the platform
    • Remove features causing excessive use: autoplay, perpetual scrolling, and push notifications
    • Display content chronologically
    • Limit a minor’s time on the platform

Enforcing the Utah Minor Protection in Social Media Act

The Division of Consumer Protection may take administrative or civil actions to enforce the new law. Violations can be reported to the Division starting October 1, 2024.

Utah sues TikTok

Utah sues Meta

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News & Information

Nearly half of teens ages 13 to 17 said using social media makes them feel worse. – Source

A survey of 8th and 10th graders showed the average time spent on social media is 3.5 hours per day and almost 15% (1 in 7) spends 7+ hours per day on social media. Source

Teens who spend more than 3 hours per day on social media face double the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes. – Source

88% of Utah parents believe social media has a detrimental impact on children and youth. Source

Nationally, almost 60% of teen girls say they’ve been contacted on social media by a stranger in ways that made them feel uncomfortable – Source

News & Information

Social Media Companies Know They Are Harming Kids Source

During a recent U.S. Senate hearing, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned to families whose children have been victimized by social media and apologized, proving social media executives and companies know the damage the apps do.

“There is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health. We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis.” – U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy

“By leveraging highly powerful algorithms and manipulative design features—many of which mimic features of slot machines— TikTok is currently succeeding at capturing the attention of young consumers worldwide...” - TikTok Unredacted Filing, pg. 2