Jan 18, 2024 - News

Ohio awaits ruling on youth social media law

A phone showcasing social media icons.

An illustration of phone social media icons. Photo: Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ohio officials want to restrict social media usage for minors, but a federal judge has pressed the block button.

State of play: The new law ā€” which was supposed to go into effect on Monday ā€” seeks to require parents and legal guardians to give "verifiable consent" for children under 16 to access social media, gaming platforms and more.

  • The rules would apply only to new accounts made after Jan. 15, with civil penalties issued to non-compliant platforms.
  • Enforcement is paused while a court hears a legal challenge from NetChoice, a trade group representing major sites like TikTok and Facebook.

The other side: NetChoice claims the law unconstitutionally undermines children's free speech rights and doesn't clearly define which companies have to comply.

  • And it notes enforcement would be difficult, such as when one parent consents but another does not.
  • Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who backs the law, previously acknowledged to Axios that children could lie when asked to verify their age or impersonate their "consenting" parent.

What they're saying: Husted called the lawsuit "cowardly but not unexpected ...

  • "[T]hese companies are determined to go around parents to expose children to harmful content and addict them to their platforms," he said in a statement.

What's next: A hearing on the preliminary injunction temporarily blocking enforcement is slated for Feb. 7 in federal court.

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