Florida recently passed a new law and Utah recently repealed and replaced its previously enjoined law with two new bills (available here and here), which regulate minors’ access to social media platforms. The laws highlight states’ continued efforts to protect minors in the social media realm.

Florida’s law goes into effect on January 1, 2025. It will prohibit social media companies from allowing children 13 and under on their platforms: children under this age cannot create social media accounts. It also requires parental consent for account creation by minors who are 14 or 15. Social media companies will also need to delete existing accounts for children under 14 and implement age verification for pornographic or explicit websites. The law allows the Department of Legal Affairs to enforce it with civil penalties up to $50,000 per violation. Florida house speaker, Paul Renner, touted the law as one that is unlike other state laws that were previously challenged on First Amendment grounds. Renner claimed that Florida’s law addresses potentially harmful features, rather than content itself.

Utah’s Social Media Regulation Act, which was challenged based on a potential violation of First Amendment rights, has been replaced by two bills, SB 194 and HB 464. Both take effect on October 1, 2024. Both laws apply to “social media companies” operating social media services primarily used by account holders to interact socially. SB 194 contains most of the law’s general provisions, while HB 464 includes a private right of action for adverse mental health outcomes that arise “in whole or in part” from a minor’s excess use of social media. The definition of a social media service does not include email, cloud storage, or document viewing, sharing, or collaboration services. The laws generally apply to Utah residents who are under 18. As a reminder, California, Ohio, Arkansas and Texas have tried to pass similar laws that aim to either boost online safety or restrict minors’ social media access. Such laws have also received constitutional pushback (see holdings for California, Ohio, Arkansas and Texas, which is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court).

Unlike the prior Social Media Regulation Act, the new Utah bills require companies to implement an age assurance system to determine if users are minors. Parental consent is not required for creating or accessing accounts, but only for certain functionalities. Minors’ accounts need to have default settings limiting visibility, data collection, direct messaging, and certain engagement features. Minors can designate supervisors to set usage limits, schedule breaks, and access account information.

Putting it into Practice: Since prior state laws have been constitutionally challenged, we will likely see more states passing laws attempting to regulate social media platforms’ interactions with minors.