POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah releases guidelines for social media age verification

Oct 19, 2023, 6:20 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2023, 8:21 am

Boy holding a cell phone in two hands. Utah has proposed some options for how social media companie...

Utah has proposed some options for how social media companies can verify users ages in accordance with the Social Media Act. (Cavan Images/Cavan Images RF/Getty Images)

(Cavan Images/Cavan Images RF/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah passed the Social Media Regulation Act this year. 

It’s the first act of its kind. Starting on March 1, 2024, social media platforms must verify the age of users and get consent from a guardian if the user is a minor. 

However, there have been a lot of concerns surrounding the bill, especially about the age verification process. The Utah Division of Consumer Protection released some options for that process on Monday. 

According to the rule, these are the proposed methods for age verification:

  • Validate and verify the cell phone subscriber information.
  • Use “dynamic knowledge-based authentication,” which uses questions based on public records to verify someone’s identity. The rule specifies methods for this must be approved by the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Estimate a user’s age based on the date the account was created.
  • Checking the last four digits of a user’s social security number against a third-party database of personal information
  • Estimate a user’s age using facial analysis.
  • Match a user’s account to their government-issued ID and compare using a live webcam photo.

Why this is such a big deal

Other than being the first act of its kind, Utah’s Social Media Act changes things for social media companies. 

The reason age verification needs to be done at all is because the act has certain rules companies need to follow if a user is a minor. Minors’ accounts must give parents or guardians full access to the account, block minor accounts from unapproved direct messages and block their username from showing up in search results.

Platforms also need to create a default curfew setting for minors which would block access from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. However, guardians can adjust those default curfew settings.

If a user is a minor, companies also can’t collect their data, can’t target them for advertising and can’t target them with “addictive designs or features.”

Dave and Dujanovic have been following the progress of the Social Media Act and discussed it on Wednesday’s show.

  

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