SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a statement following the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s vote to approve Senate Bill 680 (SB 680), which would hold large social media companies accountable for causing specified harms to child users on their platforms. The bill was authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and is being sponsored by Attorney General Bonta.
“Every day, children in California face real and immediate harms on social media platforms,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “It’s great news that Senator Skinner’s bill has been approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Large social media companies are harming our children's well-being and mental health, and SB 680 is an important tool in our collective efforts to hold those companies accountable.”
“Thank you, AG Bonta, for your sponsorship of SB 680, 'Holding Social Media Accountable,' and your recognition that Californians across our state are fed up with social media platforms harming our children,” said Senator Nancy Skinner. “These platforms are designed to addict users, with our children particularly susceptible. Further, design features used by these platforms also target our children with material that causes eating disorders and other harm, as well as information on how to buy dangerous narcotics and illegal firearms. SB 680 will provide the Attorney General’s Office, along with other public prosecutors, the legal tools needed to curb these harmful practices.”
SB 680 would prohibit large social media companies from knowingly or negligently using a design, algorithm, or feature that the company knew, or by which the exercise of reasonable care should have known, causes child users to experience addiction to the social media platform, develop an eating disorder, or inflict harm on themselves or others. Social media companies could also be held liable for sending child users information regarding how to obtain firearms or controlled substances, or how to die by suicide, if the child acts on that information.
SB 680 authorizes civil enforcement by the Attorney General and other public prosecutors, and provides for a civil penalty of up to $250,000 for knowing and willful violations of the bill. The bill applies only to social media companies that generated over $100 million in gross revenue during the preceding calendar year.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to holding social media companies accountable, particularly when their actions may harm California’s youngest residents. He has announced nationwide investigations into whether Meta and TikTok provided and promoted their social media platforms to children and young adults, despite knowing that such use is associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harm to young people. Attorney General Bonta also co-led a bipartisan coalition in expressing support for hearings in the U.S. Senate on “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, and Mental Health Harms.” Further, he joined 43 attorneys general in urging Meta to abandon plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. Following heavy criticism, Meta announced that it would pause development of the new platform.