LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced her support for a bill that would require social media companies to verify the ages of new users.
Sanders said the goal is to protect children from harmful online activity.
“One of the things I’m certainly not looking forward to is my kids asking me for social media accounts,” Sanders said.
Senate Bill 396, the Social Media Safety Act will soon head to the legislature. It would require social media companies to contract third-party groups to verify the ages of new users. Minors attempting to sign up would need their parents’ consent.
Sanders said studies show kids who encounter negative content online develop emotional and mental health issues.
She said companies like TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have done little to crack down on this.
“They want the most users possible as young as possible with as little parental supervision as possible,” Sanders said. “One ill-advised moment online can mean a lifetime of pain offline.”
Companies that fail to comply would face prosecution, Sanders said. State Sen. Tyler Dees (R) sponsored the bill and said it is too early to determine the preferred punishment.
“It’s still early on,” Dees said. “We just know we are taking the right steps.”
Dees said no other states have a law like this, meaning Arkansas would be the first.
“There’s a commitment to protect children and empower parents,” Dees said.
Sanders said third-party groups would be responsible for keeping and protecting age data, noting social media companies have had a checkered past as it relates to personal information.
“It’s not being collected directly by the social media platforms and companies,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ endorsement could have a direct impact on how the majority-Republican legislature handles the voting process.
“This is all part of a larger plan to make Arkansas the safest place in America to live and raise a family,” Sanders said.