Proposal requiring compensation, extra legal protection for ‘kidfluencers’ passes Minnesota House

Published 9:08 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

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By Dana Ferguson, Minnesota Public Radio News

The Minnesota House on Wednesday voted 103-26 to approve a proposal adding new legal protections for minors featured in social media posts.

Under the proposal, kids under 14 would be barred from creating paid social media content. The minimum age for most social media sites is 14 but the bill’s backers said some parents bypassed the requirement by setting up accounts of their own that predominantly feature their children.

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For accounts that feature kids younger than 14 in at least 30 percent of their content, all profits would be designated for the young person. It would also require those influencers to keep records about when the children appear and how much they earn. And influencers ages 14 to 18 who profit from social media would have earnings sent to a trust fund that can be accessed when they become adults.

Minors featured in paid influencer accounts could also request that work they appeared in be deleted later. The bill’s author, Rep. Zack Stephenson said that as social media’s reach grows, kids are being targeted.

Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, said that’s put a toll on mental and physical health of young people. Some face bullying or predatory adults on the platforms.

“It’s a brave new world, members, and it’s one that we need to put guardrails on now,” he said.

The bill’s backers said that while there are legal protections now for minors who work in acting, modeling or other professions, those don’t apply to kid influencers. Illinois has enacted a similar proposal setting aside earnings for kid influencers. A handful of other states are also weighing similar bills this year.

Some Republicans raised concerns about how the law would apply and said it might need additional work.

Rep. Dawn Gillman, R-Dassel, said three families in her district fall under the category of being social media influencers that feature their children in their posts. She said families could have a hard time keeping track of their content and profits.

“I’m curious to see how they would have to monitor all of their content and scale it to see if they’re in that 30 percent,” Gillman said. “They’re compensating their children and their family by affording the life that they have right now through their business.”

Stephenson said it’s not an unreasonable request to have parents determine whether their kids were featured in their content more than 30 percent of the time. Others agreed that it was an important issue but sought to refine the policy before it became law.

“I agree very much that this is a very serious issue,” Rep. Harry Niska, R-Ramsey, said. “I think it’s a little over-inclusive and under-inclusive … it’s a good start.”

Attention now shifts to the Senate, which has a similar bill pending.