Utah governor signs laws curbing social media use for minors

FILE PHOTO: Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram apps are seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) - Utah Governor Spencer Cox on Thursday signed two laws intended to restrict social media use by minors, becoming the first U.S. state to require parental permission for anyone under 18 to use such platforms as Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

The two bills, passed earlier this month by Utah's Republican-controlled legislature, are also meant to make it easier to sue social media companies for damages.

The impact of social media on children has been the subject of a growing national debate in the United States, where service providers are largely protected from liability over their content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

"We're no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth," Cox, a Republican, said in a message on Twitter.

The bills, which the tech industry opposes, requires all users to submit age verification before opening a social media account. Minors under the age of 18 seeking an exception would need permission from a parent.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Richard Chang)

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