LITTLE ROCK (Ark.) (AP) -- Arkansas became the second state to ban children from using social media on Wednesday, when Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders approved legislation that requires minors to obtain permission from their parents to create a new account.
The Republican governor signed a bill requiring social media companies to work with third-party vendors to verify age of new users. This law will be applicable to all accounts that are created after September.
Before signing the legislation, Sanders stated that while social media can be an excellent tool and a wonderful resource it can also have a huge negative impact on children.
This proposal is very similar to the Utah governor's first-in-the nation law. Spencer Cox signed the bill last month. The law in Utah will take effect March 2024. Supporters claim that similar measures are being considered in several other states. California passed a law last year that requires tech companies to protect children's safety by preventing them from profiling or using personal data in ways that could cause harm to children.
Last month, Sanders announced that the state had filed lawsuits against TikTok parent Meta and Facebook parent Meta. The lawsuits claim that the social media companies misled consumers regarding the safety of children using their platforms and the protection and privacy of users' personal data.
Opponents have criticized the legislation, claiming that it could lead to new privacy concerns and worsen the mental health crisis among youth. Experts also question whether or not the restrictions can be enforced.
Jason Kelley, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's acting director of activism, stated in a statement that the governor and legislators who voted in favor of this bill must not be aware of the harm it will cause to privacy and freedom of speech rights of those they represent.
Social media platforms with more than $100 million annually in revenue would be subject to the restrictions. This restriction wouldn't be applicable to some platforms such as YouTube, Google, and LinkedIn.
For each violation of the new law, social media companies could be fined $2,500. Third-party vendors are prohibited from keeping user's identifying information after they have been granted access to the social network site.
Arkansas Republican Senator Tyler Dees was the bill's sponsor. He stated that the new law sends a clear message to parents that they want to work together and empower their children to protect themselves.