LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation Wednesday creating a requirement for social media companies to verify a user’s age before logging on to the platforms.
The legislature passed the Social Media Safety Act at the end of this session. It requires any social media company with over $100 million in revenue to confirm any new user is either over 18 years old or has a parent’s permission before they can create an account.
Sanders stressed that the act only applies to new social media accounts and that current accounts will not be affected.
The age verification requirement goes into effect Sept. 1.
The legislation “makes Arkansas a national leader in protecting our kids,” Sanders said.
“While social media can be a great tool and a wonderful resource, it can have a massive negative impact on our kids,” she added.
Sanders thanked the legislation’s sponsors, Rep. Jon Eubanks (R-Paris) and Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs), who spoke about the importance of the bill in protecting children.
“One-third of all sexual crimes from an online situation are stemming from a social media interaction,” the senator said. “This can’t continue to happen.”
Saying that “culture is being eroded, and it’s happening online,” Dees called the new law an extension of efforts already made by society to protect children from things like cigarettes or alcohol by requiring age verification for purchases.
Dees, joined by Sanders, confirmed that third-party age-verification companies are already in operation, calling the process “very easy.”
Sanders stressed that the account verification requirement was limited to social media companies but not companies like Google or Amazon.