California Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Law Requiring Social Media Companies to Consider Children’s Health


Social-media companies that operate in California will have to consider the health and well-being of children under a first-of-its-kind bill signed into law Thursday by Gov.

Gavin Newsom.

Called the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, the law will require makers of social-media apps like


Instagram and TikTok to study products and features that are likely to be accessed by minors and mitigate any potential harm before releasing them to the public, starting in July 2024.

“We’re taking aggressive action in California to protect the health and wellbeing of our kids,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The bill received bipartisan, unanimous support in both the Assembly and the state Senate.

Social-media companies opposed the bill, arguing that differing state laws regulating their apps would make compliance difficult.

A separate measure with a similar goal that would have allowed government lawyers to sue social-media companies when their apps cause harm or addiction in children died in the California legislature last month.

The new law will also require companies to craft their privacy policies in language that kids can understand and prohibit the profiling of children and the use of tools that encourage kids to share personal information.

Companies likewise will be banned from using precise geolocation tracking unless the minor is notified and from using kids’ personal information in ways that are determined to be detrimental to their health.

If the companies violate these rules, they could face injunctions on their products—and be fined up to $7,500 per impacted child if the violation was found to be intentional.

Democratic Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, who co-authored the law, said it is modeled after a similar one in the U.K., which has led to changes such as Google making safe search, which screens out potentially inappropriate content, its default browsing mode. TikTok and Instagram have also disabled direct messaging between minors and adults they don’t follow.

“Now we can ensure they do the same for California youth—and hopefully young people across the country,” Ms. Wicks said.

A spokeswoman for


and Instagram owner

Meta Platforms Inc.,

which opposed the bill, said the company has concerns about some of the law’s provisions, but acknowledged it was an important development toward establishing standards.

“We believe young people should have consistent protections across all the apps and online services they use, which is why we support clear industry standards,” the spokeswoman said. “We’re hopeful that continued regulation in this area will seek to preserve teens’ rights to be online, while keeping them safe.”

Chris Marchese, counsel for NetChoice, an association of Internet companies whose members include Meta, TikTok, and


said the new law could have the unintended consequence of placing limits on how adults can use the Internet as well.

“The law violates the First Amendment by chilling constitutionally protected speech and by infringing on the editorial rights of websites, platforms, and apps of all sizes and ideologies,” Mr. Marchese said.

Mr. Newsom earlier this week also signed a new law that will require social-media companies to publicly disclose their platform policies on hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism. The companies will also have to share data on the enforcement of those policies.

Write to Meghan Bobrowsky at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


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