Utah governor says he is getting ready to sue social media companies for 'harms' to kids

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) said on Sunday that he’s getting ready to sue social media companies for their sites’ “harms” toward young children in his state. 

In an appearance on CBS’s Face The Nation, Cox told moderator Margaret Brennan that he and other state officials are looking at all social media companies. He added that in the coming months, the state will file lawsuits against those platforms to hold them accountable for their actions. 

“​​We believe they’ve known about- about the dangers, some of this has been leaked out, Meta and others, very clear evidence that they knew the harms that their products were causing to kids, and that they intentionally tried to hide that information,” Cox told Brennan. 

“And- and- and of course to not make-make changes that are necessary to protect our kids, and- and so we’re looking forward to having our day in court on that issue.”

Cox signed legislation earlier this year that restricts minors in the state from using social media platforms without parental permission. 

Utah Senate Bill 152 would require social media platforms to verify that users in the state are 18 years or older in order to open an account. The bill, which is set to take effect in March 2024, also states that those residents under the age limit would need to open an account with a parent or guardian’s permission. 

Cox also acknowledged that he’s ready to face any legal challenges for his latest slew of legislation. 

“I’m sure we’ll have social media companies suing the state of Utah. In fact, we’re going to be suing social media companies for- for the harm and damage that they’re causing our young people,” Cox said. “I suspect that at some point, the Supreme Court will weigh in on this decision when it comes to restricting youth access. What we’re trying to do is give families more control over what is happening on social media.”

This comes as a bipartisan group of senators earlier this year introduced a bill that would prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from using various social media platforms. They added that the bill will also require parental permission for those under the age of 18. 

“What we’re trying to do is give families more control over what is happening on social media. In suicide, anxiety, depression, self harm, there is a causal link there,” Cox told Brennan. He added that the state’s goal is to give more kids control over their experience with social media.

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