SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Utah Social Media Regulation Act rule has been published, which will mean that minors must get parental consent to have a social media account. It goes into effect Mar. 1, 2024.
Published by the Utah Office of Administrative Rules and crafted by the Department of Commerce’s Division of Consumer Protection, the rule states that social media, such as Facebook, X (formerly called Twitter), Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, etc., must verify if a user is a minor and then require the minor user to obtain parental consent before they may open or maintain an account.
The division has reportedly opened a public comment period, which will last until Feb. 5, 2024. Additionally, they will hold a public hearing on Nov. 1, 2023, to receive feedback on the rules.
How will the new rule work?
Over the last several months, the division has “researched age verification and parental consent methodologies and reviewed stakeholder input to inform the rulemaking process,” a release states.
Officials said they came to the conclusion that existing tech can verify accurately whether or not a user is a minor. “Social media companies may utilize these technologies, examples of which are listed in the rules, enabling them to offer users multiple secure and private options while balancing cost, accuracy, and the level of friction for obtaining an account,” the release states.
Parents will reportedly also be required to attest that they are authorized to give their consent for the minor user.
After the public comment period, Utah’s new social media rule will go into effect, and social media companies will reportedly have until Mar. 1, 2024, to comply. If a company fails to comply, officials said that company may be fined up to $2,500 per violation.
Public comments may be submitted here until Feb. 5, 2024. The public hearing, which will be held on Nov. 1, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., will be held at the Senate Building at the Capitol in room 220.
Gov. Spencer Cox stated, “The health and well-being of our kids is at stake, and we take that seriously. We are eager for the Social Media Regulation Act to take effect. These rules ensure that social media companies prioritize the safety and privacy of Utah`s youth while allowing them the flexibility to select methods that best meet their needs.”
Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Woolley Busse stated, “Low-cost technologies already exist for these companies to verify the ages of their users while also protecting their privacy. As such, this rule puts the onus on the social media companies to accurately age verify and obtain parental consent. Furthermore, the Division has the flexibility to refine the rules as technology advances.”
For minors who do get parental consent to have a social media account, there will be a few adjustments, outlined below.
Here is a complete list of what social media companies do once the rules goes into effect:
- Verify the age of a Utah adult seeking to maintain or open a social media account.
- Get the consent of a parent or guardian for Utah users under age 18.
- Allow parents or guardians full access to their child’s account.
- Create a default curfew setting that blocks overnight access to minor accounts (10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.), which parents can adjust.
- Protect minor accounts from unapproved direct messaging.
- Block minor accounts from search results.