Texas Bill Advances to Ban Children From Social Media

Texan lawmaker Jared Peterson filed a bill intending to keep children off social media. HB 869 would require a user to be 18 years or older to create social media accounts. 

Patterson likened the harm caused by social media to cigarette smoking before the 1960s, stating that although it was once considered safe, social media access to minors has led to rising self-harm, suicide, and mental health issues. 

HB 896

A majority of social media websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, require users to be at least 13 years old to sign up but don’t ask for proof of age. 

As part of HB 896, social media platforms would require users to provide a photo ID to verify their age and allow parents to ask for the deletion of their child’s account.

Protecting the next generation of Texans

Greg Sindelar, CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, favored Patterson’s bill. “The harms social media poses to minors are demonstrable not just in the internal research from the very social media companies that create these addictive products but in the skyrocketing depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates we are seeing afflict children,” he said.

In the statement, he also thanked Jared Patterson for his leadership in keeping the youth population safe and said that TPPF strongly supported restricting minors’ access to social media to prevent it from harming the next generation of Texans.

Texas bans TikTok on government devices

In other news from the state, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has banned the use of the social media app TikTok on state government-issued devices. The app has over 85 million users in the U.S. alone. The mandate has to be enforced by each state agency’s IT department. 

There are concerns by the FBI that the Chinese government is using the app to collect data. One cyber security expert says that since a Chinese company owns TikTok, it isn’t subject to privacy regulations like U.S.-owned companies. 

Abbott said that exceptions could be made for using the app on state government-owned devices in the case of criminal investigations, but they have to be reported to the Governor’s office. 

The Governor has also directed the Public Safety and Information Resources departments to develop plans that the state department can use regarding personal devices. In the past, there have been allegations that TikTok collected location data from users, posing a risk to people’s privacy and physical and cyber security.