Region & State

Arkansas governor-backed bill would require social media age verification

By HUNTER FIELD | Arkansas Advocate

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants the Arkansas Legislature to require platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, to hire third-party vendors to verify users’ ages.

A bill introduced with the new Republican governor’s support on Thursday would require social media users to provide digital versions of their drivers’ licenses or state IDs to online companies.

Those under 18 would be barred from having social media accounts without parental permission.

“While social media can be a great tool and a good resource for a number of things, many kids are simply not prepared for the negative aspects of it,” Sanders said.

In her gubernatorial campaign and since taking office in January, Sanders has painted herself as someone eager to take on “Big tech,” which she said exploits children for profit.

She drew connections between rising rates of mental illness among teenagers and rise of the social media usage.

Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs), the primary sponsor of the legislation, said Senate Bill 396 intends to only target users creating new accounts. However, the current version of the bill defines an account holder who is subject to the age-verification requirement as “an individual who has or creates an account or a profile to use a social media platform.” The bill could be amended.

“We will protect children and empower parents,” Dees said.

Similar bills have been introduced around the country, and Utah recently passed a social media age verification measure.

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2 replies »

  1. And when those systems inevitably get hacked or the info is sold, everyone gets their identity stolen! Sounds awesome, SHS!