Social Media Account Bill Gains Approval in Tennessee, Mandates Parental Consent

Social Media Account Bill Gains Approval in Tennessee, Mandates Parental Consent

For children to use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, parental consent will be required starting in the next year.

This is from the “Protecting Minors from Social Media Act,” a law that was approved by the Tennessee General Assembly. Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) stated that the bill will force social media companies to confirm the age of anybody attempting to register for an account.

During the floor debate earlier this year, Johnson stated, “If the attempt to create the account is made by a minor, then the bill would require the social media to verify that they have express consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian prior to becoming an account holder. “The bill will also require social media companies to provide parents a means by which the parent or legal guardian may supervise a minor’s account, including options for the parent to view privacy settings, set daily time restrictions and implement breaks, during which time the minor can’t access the account.”

According to Johnson, the bill also forbids businesses from contractually waiving any of the criteria, giving the Tennessee Attorney General the authority to enforce the rule.

“The evidence is clear: social media has harmful effects on children, teens and young adults,” Johnson stated. “Oftentimes young children create social media accounts without their parent’s knowledge or consent. The unsupervised use of social media by children is not only inappropriate but can be potentially harmful to those children. This legislation puts parents back in the driver’s seat of their children’s social media usage. It lays out clear steps social media companies must take to verify the ages of users to protect Tennessee children and empower parents.”

It is yet unclear how social media businesses would be required to confirm users’ ages or obtain parental approval before allowing minors to register for accounts.

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The measure as revised just states that they must verify; it does not specify the mechanics for that verification.

In March, the House approved the legislation with resounding bipartisan support. With seven Democrats voting against it or abstaining, it passed 88-2-5.

Earlier in April, the proposal was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate as well, passing 30-0-1 with Sen. Heidi Campbell being the only one to abstain.

Before reaching the governor’s desk, the bill must make one more stop back in the House for an amendment.

According to an official from the governor’s office, Bill Lee plans to sign the bill. The bill will go into force in January after it is signed.