The Arkansas House of Representatives has passed a bill that requires all social media companies that gross more than $100 million in revenue to verify their users’ ages and seek parental or guardian approval if the user cannot prove that they are an adult.
Following in the steps of Utah, Arkansas has passed a bill imposing restrictions on social media for kids. According to CNN, the Arkansas House of Representatives has passed a bill that requires all social media companies that gross more than $100 million in revenue to verify their users’ ages and seek parental or guardian approval if the user cannot prove that they are an adult. The new law is meant to make the internet safer for minors.
The bill is being called the Social Media Safety Act, and only 10 out of 92 state representatives opposed it. Since the state House has passed it, the act will now move back to the Senate, which had already passed an earlier version of the bill. The Senate will have to approve an amendment that the House made before the bill will finally land on Governor Sarah Huckabee’s desk for her approval.
With the rapid growth of social media, which has spiked drastically in the last few years, parents are worried for their children’s safety. Parents fear that social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram might introduce children to inappropriate content and could aggravate mental health issues. Additionally, parents worry that exposing their children to social media will open up even more platforms for bullying and harassment than children already face, especially considering that people tend to become more toxic behind the anonymity of a keyboard.
This newly proposed law could help make social media a safer place for minors by allowing parents more control over what their children are exposed to. If the act is signed into place, then companies would be required to use third-party verification services to confirm the age of all users, regardless of whether they are over the age of 18.
Much of the language in the Arkansas Social Media Safety Act bill reflects a law recently signed into place in Utah that requires that parents have access to their teens’ accounts, creates an online curfew for the kids, and bans all ads directed toward minors. Other states are also following suit and are in the process of passing similar laws, including Ohio and Connecticut. In both states, parents and politicians are arguing for all children under the age of 16 to have parental permission before creating social media accounts.
On the Congressional level, representatives have taken social media restrictions even further by proposing a total ban on TikTok for all users in the United States. Additionally, these representatives have also been in discussion on how to restrict other social media accounts for the protection of minors but have failed to come to a consensus on how to do that.
TikTok has already been banned in other parts of the world, including in Hong Kong. Here, previous social media users have expressed how life without the clock app is an improvement and how no one misses the constant doom-scrolling and addictive algorithm.
In Hong Kong, only TikTok was removed, and other apps are still available to the public, including children. Still, citizens have commented how having less distraction from social media has allowed them to spend more time face-to-face with one another as well as more time exploring the outdoors.
Only time will tell what the future of social platforms will be in the United States and whether other states will be inspired by the bills passed in Utah, Arkansas, Ohio, and Connecticut and jump on the social media banning bandwagon in the effort to protect children from the internet.