Georgia Legislature adopts age verification for social media platforms

A sign celebrating Sine Die is seen at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on Sine Die, the last day of the legislative session, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

A sign celebrating Sine Die is seen at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on Sine Die, the last day of the legislative session, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia lawmakers adopted legislation that requires schools to teach students about the dangers and uses of social media while also requiring platforms to confirm users’ ages.

Senate Bill 351, a priority of Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, passed the Senate early Friday nearly half an hour past midnight, following Sine Die, the end of the legislative session.

The legislation, if signed into law, would require the state Department of Education to establish “model programs” for teaching online safety, with information about mental health, disinformation, misinformation and the risks of sharing information online, among other dangers of using the internet.

It also would require that social media platforms “make commercially reasonable efforts” to verify that account holders are 16 or older, or else secure parental consent. Minors could not be subjected to advertising, and their personal information could not be collected.

Violators would be subject to a $2,500 fine per violation. Porn sites would have to confirm viewers are at least 18 or face a $10,000 fine.

The 31-page bill, which also would add “cyberbullying” to the law by updating the code section that deals with bullying, passed the state House with amendments earlier in the evening, and then the Senate, in a 48-7 vote, around 12:25 a.m.

Earlier in the day, Meta told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that states were passing a patchwork of laws with differing requirements and that the company supports federal legislation requiring parental permission to download apps instead.