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Illinois Social Media Law Requiring Children Influencers Get Paid Now In Effect


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Illinois has pioneered a groundbreaking law aimed at safeguarding the interests of children featured in family vlogs, marking a significant step forward in social media legislation. Effective from July 1, this legislation mandates that parents must allocate 50% of the profits derived from their children’s participation in vlogs towards their future, based on the proportion of time the child appears on-screen. For example, if a child is featured 60% of the time, they would receive 30% of the earnings, which are to be deposited into a blocked trust fund accessible when the child reaches adulthood at 18.

The genesis of this law can be traced back to a compelling letter written by Illinois teenager Shreya Nallamothu to her state senator, highlighting the exploitation of child influencers without adequate legal protections. “I learned about child influencers over the pandemic and was shocked that this exploitation was happening in plain sight without legislation to protect these kids,” Nallamothu remarked.

Family vloggers have capitalized on documenting their children’s daily lives, monetizing everything from routine activities to personal milestones. However, concerns have arisen about whether these children will receive a fair share of the earnings or regain privacy as they grow older. Advocates view Illinois’ proactive stance as a potential catalyst for more robust regulations across the nation, addressing scenarios where children are prominently featured in vlogs over extended periods.

The law specifically targets vlogs where children appear in more than 30% of the content over a year, ensuring that not all videos featuring children fall under these regulatory requirements.

Content creator Caroline Easom acknowledges the law as a positive initial step but underscores the need for additional safeguards. She points out that family vlogging can blur the lines between home life and work, turning a child’s existence into a public performance akin to reality television. “People think this is just their normal life, but family vlog content is like reality TV – it takes a lot of effort,” Easom observed.

Easom also raises valid safety concerns, including incidents of sexual harassment from viewers, highlighting the necessity to shield children from such risks.

Comparatively, other jurisdictions have implemented more stringent regulations. In France, for instance, videos featuring minors under 16 cannot be monetized, while the European Union grants individuals the right to request the removal of their personal data under specific circumstances. Although an earlier version of Illinois’ legislation included a “right to be forgotten” provision, it was omitted due to potential First Amendment implications. Nallamothu and fellow advocates continue to advocate for stronger privacy protections.

Nallamothu emphasizes that beyond financial considerations, protecting children’s privacy and well-being is paramount. “Even if you can recover the money from someone’s childhood, you can’t undo the harm caused by exposing vulnerable moments online for all to see,” she stressed.

In conclusion, Illinois’ pioneering legislation represents a critical milestone in the regulation of social media, setting a precedent for safeguarding child influencers’ rights and promoting responsible content creation practices. As the digital landscape evolves, these efforts are crucial in balancing innovation with the protection of vulnerable individuals, particularly children, in the online sphere.

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