Utahns under 16 most likely group to lose social media, says sponsor of Utah’s restrictions law

May 19, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: May 23, 2023, 9:33 am

FILE - A person uses a smartphone in Chicago, Sept. 16, 2017. Utahns 16 and under are the mostly li...

FILE - A person uses a smartphone in Chicago, Sept. 16, 2017. Utahns 16 and under are the mostly likely group to lose access to social media platforms says Rep. Jordan Teuscher who sponsored H.B. 311. (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — The Utah lawmaker who helped author the state’s new social media restrictions for minors says he’s not worried about companies like Facebook, TikTok, or Twitter pulling the plug in Utah.

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But he did say a specific provision in H.B. 311 is likely to cause the companies to block 16-year-olds. 

“The provision I’ve heard most from the social media companies is the rebuttable presumption that minors have been harmed if they’re on the platform and they’re under 16,” Rep. Jordan Teuscher (R-South Jordan) told KSL NewsRadio.

“That provision itself likely will cause the social media companies to not allow those under 16 on their site … unless we make changes,” he said. “It’s too big of a liability [for them].”

Teuscher is working to meet with reps from the various tech companies. He said he is open to changes that would prevent that, before the law gets implemented next March.

Meeting with social media platforms

Teuscher is hoping for a meeting later this month. Through this meeting he hopes to get reps from each of the different platforms to meet all together. He admits they all have different needs so their solutions to protecting minors might look different.

A recent Politico article  reports Teuscher is working on some so-called safe harbor laws. He tells KSL NewsRadio he is open to those, if they can agree that the common goal of protecting children is met. 

Right now, the law has one specific safe harbor from the private right of action. Meaning, it has one option that the tech companies can choose to meet. If they do, they couldn’t be held liable.

That provision requires quarterly audits of their “practices, designs, and features to detect practices, designs, or features that have the potential to cause or contribute to the addiction of a minor.”

Teuscher said he’s open to more safe harbor provision on the other aspects of the law.

“The question is, are there things that we could come up with that said if the social media company committed X,Y and Z, that we would feel comfortable enough that there isn’t the need for the PRA” he said. 

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Utahns under 16 most likely group to lose social media, says sponsor of Utah’s restrictions law