The legislation, known as the Social Media Safety Act and taking effect in September, is aimed at giving parents more control over their kids’ social media usage, according to lawmakers. It defines social media companies as any online forum that lets users create public profiles and interact with each other through digital content.
It requires companies that operate those services to verify the ages of all new users and, if the users are under 18 years old, to obtain a parent’s consent before allowing them to create an account. To perform the age checks, the law relies on third-party companies to verify users’ personal information, such as a driver’s license or photo ID.
Utah finalized a similar law last month, raising concerns among some users and advocacy groups that the legislation could make user data less secure, internet access less private and infringe upon younger users’ basic rights.
Sanders said the law, which was approved by the General Assembly last week, “is another step in protecting our kids” from the hazards of the internet.
The law, known as the Social Media Safety Act, will require large social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok to contract with third-party vendors to preform age verification checks. The legislation will apply only to Arkansas residents seeking to open a new social account after the bill takes effect Sept. 1, Sanders told reporters at a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol.
“I think that anybody that looks around at what is happening and is satisfied with the status quo, frankly, you aren’t paying attention to what is happening here in our state and across the country,” Sanders said.