On Thursday a federal judge in Fayetteville blocked the State of Arkansas from requiring social media companies to obtain parental consent before letting children use their products.
In April the Arkansas Legislature passed the Social Media Safety Act — a good law by Sen. Tyler Dees (R – Siloam Springs) and Rep. Jon Eubanks (R – Paris) requiring major social media companies to ensure minors don’t access social media platforms without parental consent. A social media company that violated the law could be held liable.
In response, tech giants — such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok — as well as the ACLU have asked the federal courts to strike down the Social Media Safety Act as unconstitutional.
On Thursday U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks in Fayetteville blocked the state from enforcing this good law.
Among other things, Judge Brooks’ ruling claims that Arkansas’ Social Safety Act is unconstitutionally broad and vague, and that most social media content is not “damaging, harmful, or obscene as to minors.”
Social media platforms are a product created and managed by social media companies — and more and more evidence shows that social media is harmful to children.
In May the U.S. Surgeon General released a health advisory highlighting the dangers of social media use by children and calling on lawmakers to take action.
The advisory noted that, “Social media may perpetuate body dissatisfaction, disordered eating behaviors, social comparison, and low self-esteem, especially among adolescent girls,” and it encouraged policymakers to take steps to strengthen social media safety standards and limit social media access in ways that make it safer for children and better protect children’s privacy.
Right now, the State of Arkansas is suing Chinese company ByteDance — the parent company of TikTok — for allegedly violating Arkansas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The State of Arkansas has alleged that that the social media giant failed to fully disclose that TikTok is subject to Chinese law — including “laws that mandate secret cooperation with intelligence activities of the People’s Republic of China” — and that that TikTok “routinely exposes Arkansas consumers’ data, without their knowledge, to access and exploitation by the Chinese Government and Communist Party.”
If that’s true, then that means TikTok might not be respecting the privacy of the millions of teenagers who use TikTok. That’s a serious problem.
The adults who operate these social media platforms should not be able to register children as users and let children post photos and videos on their platforms without parental consent.
Arkansas’ Social Safety Act is a good law that respects parental rights and protects children online. We believe higher courts will recognize that and uphold this law as constitutional.
Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.