The House Bill Would Require Parental Authorization For Texas Minors To Create Social Media Accounts

On Tuesday, the Texas House gave initial approval to a bill that would require digital service providers like social media platforms to get permission from a parent or guardian before entering into an agreement with a minor younger than 18, even if it’s just to make an account.

Rep. Shelby Slawson, R-Stephenville, wrote House Bill 18. The bill says that social media companies must get permission from the parent of a minor using a form, a toll-free phone line, a coordinated video conference call, information from a government-issued ID, and an email, with the expectation that the information will be deleted.

Texas Minors To Create Social Media Accounts

On Tuesday, members of the lower chamber gave the bill, which was a priority for Speaker Dade Phelan, its first approval with a voice vote. This came after lawmakers asked questions about how the bill would work for about 45 minutes and Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, tried to change it twice but failed.

HB 18 would also let parents ask to see any information about a minor that is on social media. Companies would have to set up “a simple and easily accessible method” for these requests. Slawson said that a change that was made keeps trade secrets from getting out.

The House Bill Would Require Parental Authorization For Texas Minors To Create Social Media Accounts

Under the bill, companies that let marketers target known minors with ads will also have to make sure that certain information is clear and easy to find at the time the ad is shown. For example, they will have to say how any information about the minor’s use of the service leads to each ad. You must see the Texan Leading TikTok Ban In Congress Pushes State Politicians To Rein In Social Media Legislation 

Some groups don’t have to follow the rules of the bill. These include state agencies, political subdivisions, small businesses, and higher education schools. Slawson said that the bill, which is called the Securing Children Online through Parental Empowerment, or SCOPE, Act, is meant to give parents more control over how digital service providers collect and use private information about children.

“Our children are experiencing all manner of harms via overexposure to digital platforms and predatory algorithms, manifesting in increased rates of self-harm, suicide, substance abuse, se*ual exploitation, human trafficking and other mental health issues,” Slawson said in a statement after the bill was voted out of a House committee two weeks ago. “Texas parents have had enough.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 15 percent of all de@ths happen to people between the ages of 10 and 24. Even though the rate is lower than in other age groups, suicide is the second most common cause of de@th among young people. Between 2000 and 2021, the suicide rate for this age group went up by 52.2%.

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Opponents of the measure, such as Meta, which used to be Facebook Inc. and had a representative testify against the bill at a committee hearing, say that even though the bill has good intentions, it could have unintended effects that could weaken protections that are already in place. Take a look at the Rural School Leaders Oppose The Business Incentive Bill.

The company said that it has made more than 30 tools for teens and families, such as tools to check if someone is old enough to use Instagram and tools to control how much time is spent on Instagram. Others have worried that the bill is only a short-term fix for bigger problems with the mental health of young people that will need to be fixed in the long run.

“We automatically set teens’ accounts to private when they join Instagram, and we send notifications encouraging them to take regular breaks,” Meta said in a statement. “We don’t allow content that promotes suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, and of the content we remove or take action on, we identify over 99% of it before it’s reported to us. We’ll continue to work closely with experts, policymakers, and parents on these important issues.”

Last month, Utah passed a law that makes it hard for teens to use social media without their parent’s permission.

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