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Ohio’s social media parental notification law challenged in court

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(The Center Square) – Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted called a lawsuit filed to stop the state’s social media parental notification law cowardly and an attempt to addict children to social media platforms.

Husted, a Republican in his second term, pushed for the new law taking effect Jan. 15 that received support from behavioral and children’s advocacy groups around the state.

In a statement, he said, “This lawsuit is cowardly but not unexpected. The law simply requires parental consent before children under the age of 16 sign up on social media and other online platforms. In filing this lawsuit, these companies are determined to go around parents to expose children to harmful content and addict them to their platforms.”

NetChoice, a trade association that represents social media companies including Meta, Facebook, Instagram, X, Pinterest, Nextdoor and YouTube, filed the lawsuit late last week, saying the state has “unconstitutionally tried to limit certain minor’s access to protected and valuable speech on the Internet.” X is the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Husted said the companies know children are being hurt by unfettered access and called for the lawsuit to be dropped.

“These companies know that they are harming our children with addictive algorithms with catastrophic health and mental health outcomes,” Husted said. “Research has been very clear about what spending excessive time on these platforms is doing to our kids; they are struggling in school, being bullied, their sleep is being disturbed, they are dealing with body image issues, and much more. They need to drop this lawsuit so that we can move forward with the Social Media Parental Notification Act that makes parents part of the equation.”

The law requires social media operators like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, along with any website that sells things or provides a service to children, to get parental consent before establishing accounts for children under the age of 16.

When consent is given, the operators must then send written confirmation of the account to the parent or legal guardian and provide a list of censoring or content modification features.

When operators don’t provide notification or a parent wishes to stop a child’s access, parents can contact the website operator, who then has 30 days to end the child’s access.

The new law does not require operators to notify parents of accounts created before Jan. 15.

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