Utah's New Social Media Law Violates First Amendment, Tech Industry Argues

A new Utah law that restricts teens' use of social media violates the First Amendment, the tech industry group NetChoice argues.

The Utah Minor Protection in Social Media Act, which was passed earlier this year, requires platforms to limit the ability of minors under 18 to send direct messages or share information with users who aren't “connected” to the minor -- meaning, roughly, within a minor's network. That restriction can only be lifted by parents.

The new law, slated to take effect October 1, also requires platforms to disable push notifications and automatically playing content on minors' accounts.

The statute repeals and replaces a 2023 measure that would have prohibited social media companies from allowing minors under 18 to have accounts without parental permission, and banned the companies from serving ads to minors.



NetChoice, which sued over the original law, argues that the new version is also unconstitutional.

“For the second time, Utah has enacted a law violating bedrock constitutional principles of free speech in attempting to regulate minors’ access to 'social media,'” the organization argues in papers filed late last week with U.S. District Court in Utah. The group is seeking a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement.

The law's restrictions will leave minors “unable to interact with elected officials on X, share their artistic expression on Instagram, post their athletic highlights on YouTube, or ask for help with their homework on Nextdoor,” the organization says, adding that such prohibitions violate the First Amendment.

The group adds that the ban on push notifications violates teens' right to receive information, as well as publishers' rights to disseminate material.

“In the case of the notification prohibition, Utah has outright prohibited covered websites from truthfully informing minors, the digital equivalent of the state banning a newspaper from proclaiming 'Extra! Extra! Read All About It!,'” the organization argues.

Utah hasn't yet responded in court to the lawsuit.

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