Minors in Arkansas will now have to get a parent’s permission to join social media, thanks to a new law that imposes minimum age restrictions on social media. On Wednesday, Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law the Social Media Safety Act, a bill that requires minors to obtain parental consent before setting up social media accounts.
For years, social media companies have gotten away with exploiting kids for profit.
I signed a new law today requiring social media companies to verify the age of all new Arkansas users — and if an account holder is under 18, they’ll need parental permission. pic.twitter.com/k0WO8438wM
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) April 13, 2023
The new law, introduced in March, states that social media companies “shall not permit an Arkansas user who is a minor to be an account holder on the social media company’s social media platform unless the minor has the express consent of a parent or legal guardian.”
Per the legislation, social media companies have to perform age verification checks on new users, with methods such as a driver’s license or government-issued ID.
The bill also seeks to resolve concerns about data security as it states that “the social media company shall not retain any identifying information of the individual after access to the social media platform has been granted” in lieu of a reasonable age verification.
The new law comes amid concerns about the safety of social media platforms for young people. In March, Arkansas filed lawsuits against TikTok and Meta, accusing the companies of violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The lawsuits claim that the platforms exploited minors and were not upfront about the safety of the apps for kids.
Supporters of the new law argue that it is necessary to protect minors from the negative effects of social media. They point to studies that have linked social media use to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems in young people.
Proponents also hope other states may follow suit as lawmakers across the country continue to grapple with the challenges posed by social media in the digital age.
Now let's roll that out to the rest of the nation… https://t.co/H1ifcaQA23
— DeltaEcho5 🚀🛰️🗽🇺🇸 (@DeltaEchoFive) April 13, 2023
Critics of the law, however, argue that it is unnecessary and could be difficult to enforce. They also raise concerns about potential privacy violations, as the law requires social media companies to collect identifying information from minors in order to verify their age.
How does that stop the social media companies from exploiting kids? All it does is add more government overreach.
— Dan Whitfield (@DanWhitCongress) April 13, 2023
Despite these concerns, the new law is set to take effect in Arkansas in September. Social media companies that flout the law could be issued a fine of $2,500 for every violation. However, platforms with less than $100,000 in annual earnings are exempt from the restrictions.