Arkansas Social Media Law Blocked, Parents Outraged

( – As the U.S. Congress debates a bill that would ban the Chinese-owned app TikTok, a federal court issued a temporary injunction against an Arkansas law that would prevent teens from opening social media accounts without parental permission.

The decision came from U.S. District Court Judge Timothy L. Brooks, who granted the injunction requested by social media trade group NetChoice. Facebook, X (Twitter), and TikTok are among the group’s supporting members. At issue was a law signed by state governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders in April.

Judge Brooks, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote a 50-page opinion that stated the Arkansas law was likely to fail in court on constitutional grounds. Brooks also wondered if the law would have the hoped-for effects. He wrote that the practice of “age-gating” (the same thing as society’s rules that refuse to sell alcohol to children) “does not appear to be an effective approach” to protecting children. Instead, according to Brooks, it is the content found on the platforms that seem to concern the state.

Brooks also concluded the law was too vaguely written to understand which social media platforms would be subject to it, and that there were contradictory exemptions that undermined the law’s claimed purpose.

Meanwhile, Utah has a similar law set to take effect this month.

The same trade group, NetChoice, has also sued the state of California for its law barring social media companies from profiling minors or using their information in any way that could harm them. Texas and Louisiana have recently enacted similar laws, and a few federal elected representatives have expressed interest in national legislation.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin was not pleased with the court’s ruling, and said he would “vigorously defend the law and protect our children.”

Netchoice, of course, was pleased with the outcome. The group said the law would illegally deprive users of constitutional rights and would target specific speech for restrictions.

Under the now-enjoined law, social media platforms would have faced a $2,500 fine for every violation of the requirement to verify users’ ages.

The suit will continue with “limited discovery.”

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