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Want To Use TikTok, Instagram Or Twitter? A Parent To Sign A Permission Slip Could Be Coming

Social media app TikTok could be banned in the United States since the threats of privacy and targeting young teens under 18

Social media app TikTok could be banned in the U.S. due to security threats seen by top policymakers. TikTok is also one of several social media apps facing concerns about usage from a young audience.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified before members of Congress this week, sharing details of the company’s handling of data and security.

Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., questions TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing titled TikTok: How Congress Can Safeguard American Data Privacy And Protect Children From Online Harms, in Rayburn Building on Thursday, March 23, 2023. TikTok has come under fire over the harming of teens and possible data sharing with the Chinese government during the testimony. TOM WILLIAMS/BENZINGA

Chew suggested that TikTok is handled the same way in the U.S. as other social media and video platforms including those owned by Meta Platforms Inc, Alphabet Inc, and Snap Inc.

Along with the concern about the handling of data, there is another about the amount of time young users are spending on social media and video platforms.

Some apps, like TikTok, have put time limits in place for users under a certain age. One lawmaker has another plan to limit the usage of such apps by the younger generation.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a new law that would require parental consent for anyone under the age of 18 to use social media apps, as reported by The Verge. The law would also put in place a 10:30 p.m. curfew for minors and give parents access to the accounts of their children.

“We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth,” Cox said on Twitter.

Children would not be able to get on the apps until 6:30 a.m., setting an eight-hour window where they would not be allowed on the platforms regardless of permission from their parents.

Called the Social Media Regulation Act, the law sounds similar to permission slips that kids get sent home with by teachers needing parents to sign off on going on field trips, watching certain movies or taking sex education.

Many states began banning the use of TikTok on federal and state employees’ phones. States had yet to tackle banning of apps from certain age demographics, but here we are.

U.S. representative for New York’s 16th congressional district Jamaal Bowman speaks as TikTok content creators gather outside the Capitol to voice their opposition to a potential ban on the app, highlighting the platform’s impact on their livelihoods and communities in Washington DC, United States on March 22, 2023. Bowman emphasized the platform’s role in promoting free speech and fostering community. NATHAN POSNER/BENZINGA

Utah is the first state to take drastic measures, according to the report. Connecticut and Ohio are among the states working on similar legislation that would require parent or guardian permission for users under the age of 16, according to CNN.

Among the items featured in the law are the banning of social media companies in “using a design or feature that causes a minor to have an addiction.”

The law will also ban social media companies from displaying ads or targeting content to minors, which could upend the advertising market, which often targets products and items to certain age demographics.

It is suggested that TikTok could add to the mental health crisis facing teens relating to suicide. In one case, the app was sued by the state of Indiana targeting children between ages of 13 to 17 over content of luring them to drugs and alcohol.

“The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harms it inflicts on users,” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement. “With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive, and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law.”

“We care deeply about building an experience that helps to protect and support the well-being of our community, and appreciate that the state attorneys general are focusing on the safety of younger users,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. “We look forward to providing information on the many safety and privacy protections we have for teens.”

The two bills that make up the Social Media Regulation Act were passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in March before they went to the governor.

Tech lobbyists and civil liberties groups opposed the bills and said they violated free speech laws.

The new laws would go into effect on March 1, 2024, but will likely see more challenges from companies such as Twitter, Meta Platform’s Facebook and Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Alphabet’s YouTube. 

Produced in association with Benzinga

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