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Governor Cox announces Utah to sue social media companies

Governor Spencer Cox and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announce Utah is social media companies, although he didn’t name specific companies.

Governor Spencer Cox said the state will file a lawsuit against social media companies, claiming they intentionally harm children.

Governor Spencer Cox and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that the state is in the process of filing a lawsuit against social media companies, although he didn’t name specific companies.

Social media companies have come under fire in recent years for intentionally harming young people. Cox said social media use among teenagers is linked with high levels of anxiety, depression and self-harm.

Cox said the harmful effects of social media on children can no longer be ignored.

“We know that social media companies know about the consequences their platforms and algorithms are having on mental well-being and still they do nothing,” he said. “They're targeting advertisements and content to our kids and have been for years without restraint.”

Cox underscored the lawsuit is not about adult usage on the platforms, it’s about kids and the inability or unwillingness to protect them from harm. He also said other states are already involved in similar litigation.

“I suspect that we will have lots of other states that are interested in what we're looking at. There are, there is some litigation out there already,” Cox said. “We've seen, I believe, the state of Indiana has sued TikTok. We recently saw the Seattle School District file suit against various social media companies and so this this won't be the first of its kind in the country.”

Reyes said his office is seeking outside counsel to help with the lawsuit because he doesn’t have the resources to handle it in-house.

“We have lawyers in our office who are more than skilled enough but they are so overworked and underpaid that they're balancing giant portfolios of cases,” Reyes said. “And we really need the help. It's our hope that if the Legislature can support us in the future, we won't need to go to outside counsel as much.”

Cox said the lawsuit could be filed within a month and will focus on age verification as well as the age-appropriateness of content.

“It's very telling when the very people building these apps refuse to let their kids have them,” Cox said. “That should tell you everything you need to know about how dangerous these are. They are designed intentionally to make sure that you never put them down, right? This is, they figured out how to, this is very intentional.”