Can Utah Limit Children’s Social Media Use?

Happy Thursday! At a castle on the second day of his four-day swing through Ireland, President Joe Biden told reporters that visiting Ireland felt like “coming home” and wondered aloud “why the hell my ancestors left here.” Irish media have covered seemingly every detail of the president’s visit, including the exact routes of his travel in Belfast and the names of members of his security detail, after a sensitive planning document laying out the trip was found on the street. No malarkey!!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the person who leaked classified Defense Department documents in recent weeks worked on a military base and went by the name “OG” in a closed Discord chat where the leaker posted transcriptions of documents lifted from the base, according to a member of the chat who saw the documents. Eventually, OG  posted photos of original documents to the Discord group of roughly two dozen people who bonded over a love of guns and military gear.
  • A report from the pro-abortion access Society of Family Planning released Wednesday found that legal abortions in the United States fell 6 percent in the six months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. All told, according to the report, there were about 32,200 fewer legal abortions in the post-Roe period than the six months leading up to the decision, dropping the national abortion rate from 13.2 per 1,000 women of reproductive age to 12.3.
  • The Consumer Price Index rose 0.1 percent month-over-month and 5 percent annually in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, down from 0.4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in February. The year-over-year measure is at its lowest level in nearly two years, but it remains well above the Federal Reserve’s target, leaving open the possibility central bankers decide to hike interest rates another 25 basis points at their meeting next month despite minutes from their last meeting revealing they anticipate a recession later this year.
  • Thousands of residents in Richmond, Indiana, are under an evacuation order after a fire broke out at a plastics facility on Wednesday, generating a plume of toxic black smoke. Local officials said the fire has spread to at least six buildings in the area and will likely take days to put out. The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting tests on debris samples, and warning “asbestos-containing materials may be present due to the age of the building.”
  • E-cigarette brand Juul Labs reached a $462 million settlement with six states—including California, New York, and Massachusetts—on Wednesday after the states claimed the company aggressively marketed its vapes to minors. The company has spent nearly $3 billion defending itself against thousands of lawsuits from states, local governments, and individuals alleging it is responsible for a vaping crisis particularly affecting young people.
  • Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis sanctioned Fox News on Wednesday for withholding evidence in the defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Machines, and said he planned to appoint a special master to determine whether Fox turned over everything it was supposed to during the discovery process. Abby Grossberg—a former Fox News producer who is now suing the network—said Tuesday Fox had access to video recordings she made of Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies saying in 2020 they had no evidence the election was stolen.
  • Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced yesterday Fox News will host the GOP’s first presidential primary debate in Milwaukee this August. The criteria for qualifying for the debate—which will be hosted in partnership with Young America’s Foundation and Rumble—should be released “soon,” McDaniel said, but she added all candidates on the stage will be asked to pledge their support to the eventual nominee.
  • Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin announced Wednesday she plans to run for reelection next year, seeking what would be her third term and boosting Democrats’ chances of holding the chamber. Wisconsin is expected to be a 2024 battleground state, but Baldwin has yet to receive a Republican challenger for the seat.
  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, 89, asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last night to temporarily replace her on the Senate Judiciary Committee—a move that would require approval from the Senate—after it became clear she would not be returning to D.C. at the end of the Easter recess. Feinstein is facing calls to resign from Democrats—including fellow Californian, Rep. Ro Khanna—and has been in San Francisco since she was diagnosed with shingles in February, delaying important judicial nominations. Feinstein has said she will not run for reelection in 2024, but, for now, plans to serve out the remainder of her term.
  • Members of the Republican-controlled Arizona House of Representatives voted to expel GOP State Rep. Liz Harris from the state House on Wednesday after she invited a speaker to provide testimony baselessly claiming the 2020 election was stolen in a scheme involving Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, Republican House Speaker Ben Toma, and bribes from drug cartels. All 28 of the legislature’s Democrats were joined by 18 of its 31 Republicans in voting to make Harris—first elected in November—only the fifth person to be expelled from the state’s legislature.

Must Be This Tall to Post

A group of high school students looking at their smartphones while taking a short break during class. (Via Getty Images)
A group of high school students looking at their smartphones while taking a short break during class. (Via Getty Images)

You’d be forgiven for assuming the state at the bleeding edge of social media and tech policy to be California, or New York, or even Washington. But that would be an example of coastal bias, because the state taking the boldest steps is none other than Utah.

Late last month, Utah became the first state to pass laws requiring age verification, parental consent, and time limits for children using social media—an attempt to salvage young people’s cratering mental health. Utah still needs to sort out exactly how to enforce these new rules before they take effect next year, but other states are hot on its heels: Arkansas passed a social media bill just yesterday. But attorneys warn the rules will face legal challenges and may run afoul of minors’ First Amendment rights.

The two laws restrict social media use for children under 18. They require age verification for user accounts, permission from parents before kids can open accounts, parental access to minors’ accounts—including posts and private messages—and a social media curfew lasting from 10:30 pm and 6:30 am (parents can adjust this schedule). The new laws will also ban social media companies from collecting data on minors, displaying ads on their accounts, and “using a design or feature that causes a minor to have an addiction to the company’s social media platform.” 

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